City council updates drought ordinances as hot, dry weather continues

By George Slaughter, News Editor
Posted 7/29/22

The Katy City Council Thursday updated the city’s drought contingency ordinances at a specially called meeting Thursday afternoon at City Hall.

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City council updates drought ordinances as hot, dry weather continues

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The Katy City Council updated the city’s drought contingency ordinances at a specially called meeting July 28 at City Hall.

The city remains in stage 2 drought conditions. Under the new ordinance, the city asks residents and businesses to do their landscape watering between 12-8 a.m., or from 8-11:59 p.m., no more than three days a week, depending on the last digit of their address.

Addresses with even numbers may water on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays. Addresses with odd numbers may water on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays. Communities and HOAs may water on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays.

Under the previous stage 2 ordinance, the city asked residents and businesses to water between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m. no more than three days per week.

The first two of the four city drought contingencies are voluntary. The second two are mandatory. The council updated each of the four contingencies Thursday.

  • Stage 1 calls for voluntary landscape watering between 12-8 a.m. and 8-11:59 p.m. Under the previous stage 1 ordinance, the city asked residents to water between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m.
  • Stage 3 permits landscape watering between 12-8 a.m. and 8-11:59 p.m. no more than twice a week. Addresses ending in even numbers may water on Sunday and Thursday. Addresses ending in odd numbers may water on Saturday and Wednesday. Communities and HOAs may water on Tuesdays and Fridays. Watering is not permitted on Mondays to enable water storage recovery. Under the previous stage 3 ordinance, watering was permitted twice a week and according to the last digit of a city address.
  • Stage 4 permits landscape watering between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m. only once per week, depending on the last digit in a city address. Tuesdays are for addresses ending in 1 and 3. Wednesdays are for addresses ending in 0 and 2. Thursdays are for addresses ending in 5 and 7. Fridays are for addresses ending in 4 and 6. Saturdays are for addresses ending in 9. Sundays are for addresses ending in 8. Watering is not permitted on Mondays to enable water storage recovery. Under the previous stage 4 ordinance, all landscape watering was prohibited.

The council also updated enforcement policies for stages 3 and 4.

  • For stage 3 violations, the city first issues a written warning. Second and subsequent violations will bring citations with fines ranging from $100-2,000 per incident. The city may also disconnect water service, subject to appeal.
  • For stage 4 violations, the city first issues a written warning. Second and subsequent violations will bring citations with fines ranging from $200-2,000 per incident. The city may also disconnect water service, subject to appeal.

Under the previous ordinance, both stage 3 and stage 4 violations provided for the city to install a water flow restrictor after two violations, and to disconnect service after three violations.

The ordinances, proposed by the city’s Public Works Department, come as rainfall in Katy has decreased. City Administrator Byron Hebert said the city received 2.63 inches of rain in May, but only 0.23 inches in June and 0.20 inches in July.

Meanwhile, the city’s water usage has increased. Hebert said the city used 147 million gallons of water between April 15-May 15, 185 million gallons between May 15-June 15, and 230 million gallons between June 15-July 15.

“We’re definitely trending up,” Hebert said.

In a related action Thursday, the council voted to send a letter to the West Harris County Water Authority to bring in treated surface water from Houston’s Northeast Water Purification Facility.

Hebert said city officials have had many meetings with authority officials. Mayor Dusty Thiele said the line was expected to be ready by 2030. The letter expresses the city’s desire to expedite the process.

Madhu Kilambi, a principal at ARKK Engineers, the city’s engineering firm, said the line extension would be completed by early 2026 at the earliest due to the necessary engineering, planning, easements, permits and construction tasks.

Presently, the city gets its water from seven wells, four of which are in Waller County, two of which are in Harris County, and one of which is in Fort Bend County. Kilambi the line would give the city another water source, but it would also slow down the subsidence, or sinking, of the land near the wells.

Hebert said the city would modify its wells to ensure that the groundwater is consistent with the surface water, which must be treated before use.

Drought conditions in Katy are expected to continue for the near future. The National Weather Service predicts continued hot daytime temperatures with only a slight chance of rain through the weekend.

water, City of Katy, Katy City Council

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