New Landscape Variance Request

Those who install new landscapes during declared drought stages (Stages 1 through 4) may apply for a variance to the one-day-per-week watering rules. If approved, your request may allow daily watering for up to five weeks following installation. All water consumption charges incurred through the exercise of this variance are the responsibility of the account holder.

Beautification landscape projects do not qualify for a variance. Aesthetic and large-scale landscape projects should be undertaken when drought periods are over. Replacing or adding plants or turf to existing, established landscapes is highly discouraged and generally will not be granted a variance unless extenuating circumstances exist. Over-seeding existing turf is not considered new landscape and will not be given an exemption.

Request a Variance

To request a variance, the new landscape must meet all requirements of a WaterSaver Landscape to obtain a five-week variance during Stage 1:

  • New Landscape for new construction
  • Drought tolerant grass used (See SAWS approved list of turf grasses.)
  • Use at least 4 inches of soil underneath all grass
  • Bedding areas mulched
  • For in-ground permanent irrigation systems:
    1. Check sprinkler system carefully. It must not overspray off the landscape. It should water beds and grass separately.
    2. Functioning rain sensor on sprinkler systems
    3. Backflow device present and inspection requirement (every year) current.

If a builder is requesting a variance, the following items must be addressed:

  • The watering schedule (along with proof of variance) must be given to the new homeowner.
  • The as-built for the irrigation system must be given to the new homeowner.
  • A seasonal schedule will be made available to the homeowner along with a copy of the drought restrictions.
  • The permit number for the irrigation system must be supplied on the variance request form or no variance will be issued. This will be verified through the City of San Antonio.

Drought Rules Apply Even When Variances are Granted

  • No spray irrigation on Saturday or Sunday.
  • All irrigation must be done
  • No water may run off landscape to impervious surfaces.
  • Some soils cannot absorb a 10-minute irrigation run time without water running off the landscape. If this is the case, it is your responsibility to ensure that you adjust times accordingly to prevent runoff.
  • Be aware that the recommendations provided for establishment are maximum amounts allowed under the variance. Each location is different so you should monitor your landscape and use the least amount necessary to ensure plant survival.
  • Be aware that depending on your current water usage, your water bill may more than double. You are responsible for all the water you use under this variance.
  • Violations of approved schedule will result in immediate loss of variance and water waste citation.
  • Drip irrigation does not require a variance – you may use drip irrigation or hand water any day including weekends. A soaker hose is allowed on your designated watering day during specified watering times.

If the property requesting the variance is found to be non-compliant with any of the above requirements, the variance will be revoked immediately.

Unless a variance is requested and granted, watering new landscape with a sprinkler or irrigation system outside of assigned days and times will be considered water waste and subject to citation. Watering with a hand-held hose is allowed any time on any day.