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Georgetown city council to vote on limiting lawn size

Georgetown city council to vote on limiting lawn size

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Lakes in Central Texas continue to shrink because of the drought. Tuesday members of the Georgetown City Council will vote on a plan to reduce the amount of grass that can be used for new homes.

Recent rains have done a lot to keep lawns green in Georgetown, but so have irrigation systems. It’s estimated, during the summer months 75 percent of the daily water use in town is for watering lawns.

“Right now, we have enough water to meet the current demand, probably enough for the demand for a while, the issue is we are at about 56,000 that our water utility serves and we are projected to go to 200,000, and if we use at the current rate, we will not be able to meet that future demand,” said city of Georgetown spokesman Keith Hutchinson.

Tuesday night Georgetown City Council members will consider a new ordinance to reduce the amount of grass that can be installed for yards in new home construction.

So it’s putting a box on the irrigated turf area, there can still be other landscaped areas in a yard, there’s been a misconception that its limiting a yard size and that’s not the case. What we’re talking about is the irrigated turf area of a yard,” said Hutchinson.

The goal is to encourage a practice called Xeriscape. The new law involves incorporating more rock and drought resistant native plants. A date to start enforcing the new Lawn Law will not be set until the item comes up for discussion Tuesday night. For some the idea seems a little extreme, despite its justification.

“I don’t think it’s really a problem right now, but as the summer comes through, there’s going to a lot more water shortages, but I’d say, no,” said Austin Graves who grew up in the country.

The primary source of drinking water for residents here is Lake Georgetown. And like most bodies of water, in Central Texas, it’s in trouble. Lake Georgetown is fed primarily by a pipeline that’s connected to Stillhouse Hollow Lake in Bell County. Along the dam, previous high water marks from years past have started to fade indicating a new normal. Typically this time of the year the lake is full at 791 feet. The current level is 777 feet. Without a major rain event the lake is projected to only be half full by the end of April. It’s an uneasy sight for people who remember better and wetter days.

“Just what’s going to happen next, it doesn’t seem to be coming up any,” said Heather Ortiz who is from Georgetown.

Increasing the lake level goes beyond reducing the size of thirsty yards, it also involves individual consumption. It’s estimated that last year everyday on average each person in Georgetown used 218 gallons of water. The plan is to bring that number down to 160 gallons per person. Failing to meet the goal could very well change the focus of future conservation efforts from managing water consumption to basic availability.

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