Austin Residents Ordered to Limit Water Usage as Dry Spell Sweeps Region

Austin Residents Ordered to Limit Water Usage as Dry Spell Sweeps Region
A shrinking cove at Lake Travis during a dry period in 2013. (Photo: Jay Janner/Austin American-Statesman, Getty Images)

The Lone Star State is being pummelled by high temperatures and dry weather. The city of Austin is starting to feel the effects of the ongoing drought in the American Southwest. Earlier this week, Austin began restrictions as water that is stored in lakes Buchanan and Travis, dropped significantly, the Austin American-Statesman reported.

Under the stage 1 drought restrictions, residents can use hose-end sprinklers only twice a week, and waitstaff at restaurants can only serve water if a patron requests it, KUT reported. Residents can only water via irrigation sprinklers once a week, overnight. Anyone who violates these rules could be fined up to $US500 ($694) dollars, according to the Statesman. This is the first time in three years that the state has issued water restrictions.

There have been some signs that drought would eventually affect the metropolitan area. “With the early start to the hot weather this year, we have also been experiencing significant drought conditions in the upper parts of the Colorado River watershed that feed into the Highland Lakes,” Kevin Critendon, an assistant director with Austin Water, told KUT.

On top of having to conserve water, the Austin metro area is under a heat advisory this week. It’s one of several heat warnings in the area after what was reported to be one of the warmest Mays the area has experienced on record. Last month, parts of Texas saw temperatures over 37 degrees Celsius. The heat soared so much that the state’s power authority asked residents to curb electricity usage.

Many areas of Texas are showing signs of moderate drought to severe drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. And the American Southwest at large continues to grapple with the effects of extremely dry and hot weather, with California now under water restrictions as well.