A first reading approval of a revised drought contingency plan ordinance was unanimously approved by the Brownwood City Council Tuesday morning.
City Manager Bobby Rountree told the council he met with representatives from the City of Bangs, City of Early, City of Zephyr and Brookesmith Water District last week to discuss drought contingency.
“All of us are going to have the same drought contingency plan in order to ensure everyone knows what the water plans are,” Rountree said. “We are all on the same page as far as the stages and the plan itself.”
The main difference, Rountree said, will deal with the current Stage 4 watering. “The new plan will call for eliminating midnight to 9 a.m. watering.”
Under the uniformed Stage 4, which is labeled “exceptional,” homes with odd-numbered addresses would be authorized to water outdoors on Mondays between 7 p.m. and midnight, while homes with even-numbered addresses would be allowed to water outdoors on Tuesdays between 7 p.m. and midnight.”
The altered outdoor watering hours was the one detail in the plan with which Mayor Stephen Haynes took issue. “My only observation is the watering between 7 p.m. and midnight — watering from 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. — it is exceptionally hot,” Haynes said. “If I were going to choose a five-hour time period, I would choose from 4 a.m. until 9 a.m. I am just concerned about what is the most efficient use of our water.”
Haynes also suggested the public be made aware of what would “trigger” different levels of drought restrictions.
Rountree said he felt Brownwood had done an “excellent” job in reaching the Brown County Water Improvement District's goal of 50 percent reduction of water consumption. “The water district knows we cannot reach the goal, but are encouraging us to use that goal as a target.”
Implementing a Stage 5, “advanced," would be one way to meet that goal if it became a requirement, Rountree said. Stage 5 would allow outdoor watering from 6 p.m. until 8 p.m., using the same odd-even system utilized in Stage 4. The only watering instruments allowed under Stage 5 would be handheld hoses, watering cans and buckets.
“The current plan could stop all outdoor watering and that is something myself and the others agreed we did not want to do,” Rountree said. “We understand the economic impact that could have and we want our people to be able to water.”
Council member Jerry DeHay, Ward 5, asked if those living at the lake would be subject to the same restrictions and consequences for non-compliance.
“(BCWID General Manager) Dennis (Spinks) said they are making every attempt to make sure the people at the lake are watering on the same days we are,” Rountree said. “The Lake Patrol is out and trying to make sure that everyone is complying.”
As with the current plan, violations could result in penalties, include discontinuance of water service.
Despite meeting the criteria to fall back into Stage 2 conditions, water suppliers were in agreement to remain at Stage 3. “We still have August to go through, and as you know, August and September have been dry the last couple of years,” Rountree said. “We just don't see any reason to deviate from Stage 3 at this time.”
Second and third readings of the ordinance will occur Aug. 13. Because the ordinance will include penalties for violators, a legal notice will appear twice in the Bulletin prior to the ordinance taking effect, which will be after Aug. 22.