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In short, we don’t. The drought restrictions in Boerne are comparable with other water providers in the area when reviewing various levels of restrictions. The difference is that the drought has been exceptionally severe in Kendall County, as documented by the US Drought Monitor and other areas may not have needed to implement further drought restrictions. As long as our customers continue to do their part to conserve, then we will continue to meet the demand with our current resources.
Water waste is also considered a violation of the City ordinance. Water waste includes:
Boerne Utilities reviews short- and long-term weather forecasts constantly. Over the last three years we have been in a pattern that typically allows for our area to experience warmer and drier weather.
Over the spring, several areas around Texas and even the Texas Hill Country received very beneficial rainfalls; however, our area has remained in the most significant drought stage (exceptional) since 2022.
As we have seen during the summer months, it has been very dry and hot and the forecast looks to continue to near-term. Looking ahead to the fall, the NWS is also predicting our weather pattern will favor rainfall amounts that are above average.
The rains that fall are always welcome, but where it falls can impact our drought factors. If the rain falls over Boerne, in many instances our residents respond appropriately and we see less demand (i.e. rain sensors should turn off irrigation, homeowners decide not to water grass). If the rain falls northwest of the City, our streams and creeks respond, as does Boerne City Lake. Ultimately, we need both to see significant improvement in the drought status.
Only about 25 percent of our water comes from the ground, well water. The other three quarters comes from lakes – Boerne City Lake and Canyon Lake through GBRA (Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority). Our GBRA water is basically the water we serve for living purposes, such as laundry, washing dishes, and bathing. It comes on a constant flow basis all year long; it’s the water we use all through the winter and through the summer. Our summertime peak water production, which is primarily irrigation of lawns and landscaping, comes from a combination of Boerne City Lake water and well water.
In times of drought or in curtailment from the Cow Creek Water Conservation District there is just less water available from wells. So, we ask our customers to conserve because we are not as able to achieve peak production.
When the Cow Creek Groundwater Conservation District implements their Stage 4 restrictions, it reduces Boerne Utilities’ allowable groundwater well pumping by 40 percent. So, the record demand for water consumption by our customers has coincided with this required decrease in production. On average, Boerne Utilities customers utilize less groundwater than residents on private wells.
Our maximum water availability from Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority (GBRA) and planned treatment plant improvements at Boerne City Lake will allow us to serve in excess of 40,000 people. However, Boerne Utilities is not currently taking our maximum allocation of GBRA water due to the high cost of that treated water supply and having a service population of just over half that number. The amount of water we request from GBRA is delivered on a constant flow basis and can only ratchet upward. Thus, we cannot request more in drought conditions and reduce that allocation when rains occur.
It’s about availability, not depressurizing the system, making sure that we keep enough in storage. At the end of the day, there is an operational component that plays a big factor during times of water restrictions. In the name of rate control, we buy what we think we will need prudently for the summertime to both meet our everyday consumption, as well as our peak. When necessary, in unusual times, we ask our customers to conserve. That’s done not just because we are short of water, but because it’s a temporary shortage based on weather, and we are trying to control costs and therefore rates.
The wintertime average consumption is around 2 million gallons per day for our population. In the summertime, historically, we see a peak in the middle of the summer that is somewhere between 2.5 and 3 times that amount, and it ramps up and it ramps down.
We have seen a reduction overall. Ten years ago, our per capita usage was around 165 gallons per person per day. It’s come down to 140, 130 gallons per person per day, except in really dry years when we see more water usage through the summer and all year long, and that makes the average go up. A big factor in our conservation is our reclaimed water availability. A lot of the new houses that are being built have reclaimed water as their sole irrigation source for sprinkler systems. So, we’re saving 13 percent of our water overall just by serving reclaimed water.