Athletic Field Variance Request

Drought restrictions may affect schools, churches, and other entities that need to irrigate athletic fields in order to maintain safety. Schools must have their current annual irrigation checkup on file with SAWS before any variance will be considered. Athletic field variance requests are due by May 1 each year that drought restrictions are in effect.

There are two options for requesting a variance to once per week athletic field watering restrictions for safety reasons:

Basic Plan Guidelines

If a variance is requested and granted under the basic athletic field variance request:

  • Each athletic field may be watered once a week between midnight to 10 a.m. or 8 p.m. to midnight.
  • For campuses with multiple fields, each field may be irrigated on a separate day if time and water pressure does not allow for irrigation of all fields on a single day. On the application, please indicate the day of the week each field will be watered. For example:
Mon. Football Field No. 1
Wed. Football Field No. 2
Thurs. Baseball Field
Friday Soccer Field
  • If a single field is too large to be irrigated in a single day, you may split the field and water half on one day and half on the other.
  • Hand watering, drip irrigation or soaker hoses are allowed every day during the above times.


Advanced Plan Guidelines

An advanced athletic field variance allows irrigation of a single field up to three times a week based on the system’s precipitation rate and type of field.

  • Your proposed irrigation schedule must be submitted in writing with the advanced athletic field variance request.
  • Results of any irrigation audit are to be included with the athletic field variance request.
  • Soccer and football fields may be granted up to three days per week while softball and baseball fields may be granted up to two days per week.
  • Additional days for irrigating a single field may be granted upon review of the submitted paperwork.



The primary goal of the irrigation audit is to establish the precipitation rate — the amount of water distributed through an irrigation system over a certain amount of time — and to make sure each field receives a targeted amount of water per zone each week.

This is done by placing a number of “catch-cans” out in the field, running the system for a specific amount of time and looking at how much water (in inches) ends up in the bottom of the cans. You may also run the system and record the number of gallons registered on the meter to make the calculation. Through this process, you will be able to establish how long you need to run the system to apply the targeted amount of water.

Additional resources for athletic field irrigation audits can be found on Texas A&M University’s AggieTurf website.

If you have questions please call SAWS Conservation at 210-704-SAVE.