Aug 1, 2023 - News

Houston mulls water restrictions as drought worsens

A map showing various drought conditions throughout Texas

Map: National Drought Mitigation Center

It's a scorcher once again, and a dry one to boot.

Driving the news: Houston officials are closely monitoring the worsening drought conditions to determine if they should enact mandatory water restrictions.

  • Any significant chances of rain will be few and far between in the coming week, meteorologists say.

Why it matters: The lack of rain is increasing drought across the Lone Star State, including in the Houston region.

  • Nearly 10% of Harris County is under severe drought conditions, mostly in its far southeastern communities. The rest of the county remains in moderate drought or is abnormally dry.

State of play: Houston has been under Stage 1 of its drought contingency plan since June 2022, according to Houston Public Works spokesperson Erin Jones.

  • Under Stage 1, the city asks residents to voluntarily water yards only twice a week between 7pm and 5am and is looking for a 5% reduction in water demand.
  • Under Stage 2, the city makes those watering restrictions mandatory and looks for a 10% reduction.
  • Officials are closely monitoring the situation to determine if the city needs to move to Stage 2.

Flashback: The last time the city went into Stage 2 restrictions was in 2011 during one of the worst droughts in Texas history, Jones said.

  • "We're not there yet," Jones tells Axios. "But we really hope we don't have to get there."

What's happening: Providing enough pressure for Houston's water supply during times of drought puts a strain on the system, Jones said.

Zoom out: Several surrounding communities have recently put in place similar restrictions, including Katy, Rosenberg, Fulshear and West University Place, per KHOU.

  • Plus, burn bans are in effect in Waller, Liberty and Chambers counties, according to the station.

Looking ahead: A heat advisory is in effect through at least Tuesday evening with temperatures predicted to reach 102° in Houston and near 105° in the northwest suburbs.

  • Heat indices will be in the 110s.

The bottom line: If you have a yard, consider watering on this schedule as suggested by the city.


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