AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) – The hot and dry High Plains summer is impacting the water supply, according to the City of Amarillo, and community members have been asked to limit outdoor watering according to the 2019 Drought Contingency Plan.

City officials asked residents and businesses to follow Stage 1 of the contingency plan, which includes a voluntary outdoor watering schedule. As noted in the resolution, Stage 1 is implemented when demand or operating conditions result in a drawdown of the reservoir to or below around 60% of its capacity, or when total daily water demand equals or exceeds around 70% of the available water production capability for five consecutive days.

As noted by city data, Amarillo has been above the daily water usage goal of 68 million gallons per day since July 5.

“A significant amount of Amarillo’s daily water supply is used for outdoor watering, primarily the watering of lawns,” said COA Assistant City Manager Floyd Hartman. “Amarillo summers can be extremely hot and dry. If residents can follow a voluntary schedule for watering their lawns, this helps decrease the daily demand on our water supply.”

In July, Hartman said the City would typically expect about 70-72 million gallons a day in water use. However, he said Amarillo is averaging about 83 million gallons a day at this point.

The voluntary outdoor watering schedule is based on odd and even-numbered addresses, said officials:

  • Odd-numbered addresses can water outdoors on
    • Sundays
    • Tuesdays
    • Thursdays
  • Even-numbered addresses can water outdoors on
    • Mondays
    • Wednesdays
    • Fridays
  • Residents are asked to avoid outdoor watering on Saturdays

The contingency plan also asks residents to water their lawns only between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. and water them no more than three times a week to conserve water.

“It’s much more efficient, and you get more out of your money too if you water at night, rather than during the day,” he said. “The wind and the hot weather that we have evaporates most of the water, if you water during the day.”

“A voluntary outdoor watering schedule can really have a profound impact on the amount of water we use on a daily basis,” Hartman said. “It has been since at least 2012 that the city has asked residents to water only on certain days. Our citizens can really make a difference.”

Hartman said the City maximizes Lake Meredith water in its system, which makes up about 20% of its water. He said the rest comes from wells.

“So, any conservation we do does have a high impact on conservation of our aquifer and that’s our operational method is to conserve our aquifer.”

As written in the plan, “Stage 2” may be initiated when:

  • Any demand or normal operation condition results in a drawdown of the reservoir to or below around 50% of its capacity, or
  • Total daily water demand equals or exceeds around 80% of the available water production capability for five consecutive days, or
  • Any combination of total or partial failure of infrastructure, such as depletion of reservoir capacity, pipeline failure, reduced pumping capacity, groundwater supplies, and/or treatment capacity resulting in a reduction of total water sources to the point current demands equal or exceed 80% of normal system capacity.

If one or more of those situations are encountered, the city’s plan said that the watering schedule and other conservation methods may become mandatory. The full plan, which leads up to “Stage 5,” can be found here.