Council OKs drought rule changes – Here’s how that affects you

The times, they are a’ changin’ — lawn watering times, that is. In June, San Antonio City Council approved updates to the city’s drought ordinance, including new landscape watering rules.


The changes also include a new process for water waste violations and new rules for drip irrigation. The updates are part of the 2024 SAWS Water Conservation Plan and come after a long period of public input that began last summer.

“These changes create a more fair and efficient system for all of our customers — even those that reside outside of San Antonio city limits,” explained SAWS Vice President of Conservation Karen Guz. “San Antonio is in the fifth year of drought, and we are seeing Edwards Aquifer water levels continue to drop.”

The new rules became effective immediately upon City Council approval. Here’s a summary of the changes and how they could affect you.

New Watering Hours
The new one-day-a-week watering times — 5 to 10 a.m. and 9 p.m. to midnight in Stages 2, 3 and 4 — give customers more time to water in the morning while shifting the evening hours later, to help offset peak energy demand. Your watering day is still determined by the last digit of your street address.

Drip irrigation watering hours will be the same as sprinklers, and allowed three times a week in Stage 1, twice a week in Stages 2 and 3, and once a week in Stage 4.

Non-Compliance Charge for Water Waste
Previously, water waste citations went through a municipal court process. Now, water waste noncompliance charges will appear on the customer’s bill, eliminating the need to appear in court.

Customers who disagree with the charge will still have an opportunity to appeal through a committee of non-SAWS employees.

New Stage 3 and 4 Drought Surcharge
A new surcharge will encourage both residential and commercial customers with very high outdoor water use to conserve. This will only affect the top five percent of water users. For single family accounts, the Stage 3 surcharge of $10.37 per thousand gallons will take effect for water use above 20,000 gallon a month. In Stage 4, that threshold drops to 12,000 gallons.

Commercial surcharge amounts will vary by meter size.

To learn more about the landscape watering changes and the reasons behind them, visit

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Highlights of Watering Rule Changes