The City of Sugar Land recently adopted a revised Drought Contingency Plan that includes lessons learned from the 2011 drought.
The plan simplifies drought plan implementation to achieve water use reductions during drought or emergency conditions.
Water management strategies in the plan address water supply and production capacity increases from the city’s new surface water treatment plant as well as regulatory mandates that restrict groundwater pumping.
“Our revised plan considers both water availability and managing risk related to water shortages, mechanical failure and regulatory penalties,” said Director of Utilities SuEllen Staggs. “It has only three stages, is much simpler to understand and will promptly decrease consumption in a water crisis.”
In the Plan, Stage I mandatory outdoor restrictions are triggered when water demands require production to increase to 65 percent of the system’s capacity for three consecutive days. Stage I restrictions limit landscape irrigation to only two designated days for residential, commercial and roadways.
If Stages II and III of the drought plan are triggered at 70 and 80 percent of capacity, respectively, limits on outdoor water use will be increased, progressing to one day per week in Stage II and no outdoor water use in stage III.
When the city experiences conditions similar to the 2011 drought (an event that reduced water supplies across the state to the lowest in 50 years), Sugar Land’s new drought plan will require Stage I (watering limited to two days per week) implementation for only 17 days.
As part of the new drought plan, neighborhoods in Sugar Land will be included in one of four irrigation zones. Each neighborhood zone will be assigned two watering days, either Wednesday and Sunday or Tuesday and Saturday. Citizens will be expected to comply with these designated watering days during Stage I implementation of the drought plan.
Commercial customers and roadways also have specific irrigation schedules limited to two days per week. Designated watering days will disperse irrigation use resulting in reduced daily water demands and stresses on the water system.
Since 40 percent of the city’s water demand is used for irrigation, encouraging the City’s irrigation zones year-round will be a part of an ongoing water conservation strategy because today’s water use determines the city’s future water needs. Reducing current water use can prolong or possibly eliminate the need for future water system infrastructure expansions and additional raw water supplies as well as the accompanying financial burden.
“Voluntarily complying with the two day per week neighborhood irrigation schedule year-round contributes to the city’s water conservation goal to reduce outdoor water use,” said Water Conservation Manager Colleen Spencer.
Planning for the future, Sugar Land has secured adequate water supplies and developed a robust and redundant water treatment and delivery system infrastructure to mitigate threats to Sugar Land’s ability to produce, treat and deliver quality potable water.
For more information on the city’s newly adopted drought plan and neighborhood irrigation zones, call (281) 275-2450 or visit the Sugar Land Water Utilities Department online at www.sugarlandtx.gov/utilities/index.asp.