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 Monday-Friday watering for up to five weeks from the date of installation during specified hours.

Irrigation systems use large amounts of water. You should expect you will incur a very high bill as a result of using a variance. All charges incurred through the exercise of this variance are the responsibility of the account holder.

Projects that add plant material to existing landscapes do not qualify for a variance. Replacing or adding plants or turf to existing, established landscapes will not be granted a variance. Over-seeding existing turf is not considered new landscape and will not be given an exemption.

Requesting a Variance During Stage 2 (hours available 7-11 am and 7-11 pm only)

You must meet all requirements of a WaterSaver Landscape and submit your irrigation schedule to request a five-week variance during Stage 2:

  • Be prepared to include your irrigation schedule and the total number of minutes the irrigation system will run each day.
  • For new construction only
  • Drought tolerant grass only (See SAWS approved list of turf grasses.)
  • Minimum 4 inches of soil underneath all grass required,
  • For in-ground permanent irrigation systems:
    1. No overspray off the landscape is allowed.
    2. Beds and grass to be irrigated separately.
    3. Functioning rain sensor on sprinkler systems must be present.
    4. Backflow device present and inspection requirement (every year) current.

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

  • The watering schedule (along with proof of variance) must be given to the new homeowner.
  • The as-builts 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 during permitted watering hours based on the current drought stage.
  • No water may run off landscape to impervious surfaces.
  • It is your responsibility to ensure that you adjust irrigation times accordingly to prevent runoff.
  • Be aware that depending on your current water usage, your water bill may more than triple. 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 any day including weekends between 7am-11am and 7-pm-11pm. Warning: Improperly installed, maintained or scheduled drip irrigation can use as much water or more than well-managed spray. 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.