HOUSTON – Mayor Annise Parker plans to issue mandatory water restrictions within the next week, she said Wednesday.
The dry conditions have been causing the city to pump a record amount of water this summer.
Parker had recently asked residents to voluntarilty conserve water. Next week's announcement would make those conservation efforts mandatory.
"Stage Two" water restrictions would mean that residents couldn't water outdoors between 10 a.m. and 8 p.m. Any detectable water leaks would have to be repaired within 72 hours. Also, city departments would cut back water usage by 10 percent.
After "Stage Two," there are two more serious levels of water rationing.
Parker said it was not her intention to hand out a slew of citations. However, violators could face hundreds of dollars in fines.
Dan Krueger, the public works director, briefed the city council and the mayor Wednesday morning on the drought’s impact.
The city has three main water reservoirs: Lake Livingston, Lake Houston and Lake Conroe.
Lake Livingston, Houston’s largest water supply, is above 90 perent capacity. Lake Conroe is between 80 and 85 percent. Lake Houston is below 70 percent.
Krueger said the city will soon start drawing water from Lake Conroe to stabilize the declining water level at Lake Houston. That could impact recreational opportunities at Lake Conroe, Mayor Parker said.
"It's definitely going to affect us,” said James Winkler, who works at a Lake Conroe marina,.“Hopefully it's not too much until when it puts down the business."
It'd be the first time the city drew water from Lake Conroe since 1988 -- and only the third time in its history.
So far this summer, Lake Conroe has been losing about half a foot of water every month. Once the city starts drawing water, that will increase to more than a foot and a half a month, Parker said.
Some nearby property owners are worried about the lower water levels. Parker's reminding critics that the lake was built thanks to Houston taxpayers in the early '60s.
"It is what it is,” she said Wednesday during a news conference. “There may be recreational impacts. We have to provide the necessary water to our population."