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Home : News : News
NEWS | July 19, 2013

Conservation critical: Stage 3 water restrictions in effect across JBSA

By Steve Elliott Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston

The Bexar County index well J-17 - the official well for recording groundwater elevations in the San Antonio Pool of the Edwards Aquifer - fell to 640.2 feet mean sea level as of July 15.

This was the trigger that sent all three Joint Base San Antonio locations into Stage 3 water restrictions.

The J-17 well is actually housed in a nondescript building on Fort Sam Houston, just off Harry Wurzbach and near the Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery. It serves as the official well for recording groundwater elevations in the San Antonio Pool of the Edwards Aquifer, according to the Edwards Aquifer Authority website (

J-17 is the most cited and recognized in a network of observation wells maintained by the Edwards Aquifer Authority to monitor aquifer conditions in Uvalde, Medina, Bexar, Comal and Hays counties. Water level readings at J-17 are continuously recorded and monitored by the Edwards Aquifer Authority, the website stated.

The JBSA base civil engineer declared Stage III in accordance with the current JBSA Drought Management Plan and Biological Opinion issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The biological opinion limits JBSA's water draw from the Edward's Aquifer in order to protect eight endangered species which live in the aquifer and its associated springs. These species can only survive when aquifer levels and spring flows are adequately maintained.

The changes facing homeowners off base and residents of on-base housing from Stage 2 are substantial.

"All the Stage 2 restrictions are still in place. In addition, irrigation is now once every other week with watering times from 3 to 8 a.m. and 8 to 10 p.m.," said Aaron Farmer, 502nd Civil Engineer Squadron. "This will be done with an irrigation system, sprinkler or soaker hose, and only on your designated watering day.

In Stage 3, the watering days are:
· Address/facility number ends in 0 or 1, Monday is the watering day;
· Address/facility number ends in 2 or 3, Tuesday is the watering day;
· Address/facility number ends in 4 or 5, Wednesday is the watering day;
· Address/facility number ends in 6 or 7, Thursday is the watering day;
· Address/facility number ends in 8 or 9, Friday is the watering day.

"Use of portable yard pools is prohibited, as well as fire hydrant and sewer flushing," Farmer added. "Government-operated vehicles are allowed to be washed once per month and no new planting is allowed."

Additionally, there will be no watering on weekends with a sprinkler, soaker hose or irrigation system.

According to the SAWS website (, use of fountains, waterfalls, or other aesthetic water features - outdoors or indoors - is prohibited, unless a variance has been granted for 100 percent non-potable water use.
Watering rules must be strictly adhered to and people found in violation of these measures will be held accountable, Farmer stressed.

The Joint Base San Antonio Drought Management Plan is on the 502nd Air Base Wing website at

"JBSA personnel should not confuse the JBSA water restrictions with the SAWS restriction levels," Farmer stressed. "The JBSA water restrictions are more stringent and begin sooner than SAWS restrictions.

"JBSA Stage IV of water restrictions will occur when the J-17 level reaches 640.5 feet," Farmer added. "As we get into these more severe stages, we'll need everyone's help to conserve."

JBSA is currently in consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to make updates to the Biological Opinion and JBSA Drought Management Plan.

The updated documents will better align with the surrounding community's trigger levels and drought management plans to reduce confusion and provide unity of effort across the region.

The JBSA Hotline Conservation Hotline at 466-4H2O (466-4426) allows for reporting of water abusers and will bring potential disciplinary measures to violators, Farmer said.

This water point of contact will respond to calls, investigate, annotate abuse and inform the resident, facility manager or responsible individual of the problem, Farmer said. The POCs will then report the problem to the 502nd ABW, with further action coordinated from this point.

For people who live off base, SAWS has an online form to report water wasters at These offenses can lead to citations and fines for homeowners and businesses not following the rules.

To report off-base water and sewer emergencies, including main breaks, any time of day or night, call 704-SAWS (7297) for an immediate response.

For more water-saving tips, check out these websites: (111 ways to conserve), and (more information on water conservation).