SAN ANTONIO — Water will be scarcer in much of Central Texas under tighter use restrictions approved Tuesday by the Edwards Aquifer Authority.

The authority board voted in San Antonio to cut pumping of water from the aquifer by 40 percent.

The decision came after the 10-day average level of the aquifer’s water fell below the critical threshold of 630 feet above sea level. The average fell to 629.7 feet, with the daily reading Tuesday falling to 628 feet.

The 40 percent reduction under Stage IV restrictions is unprecedented, and increased what already was a 35 percent reduction under Stage III restrictions.

The aquifer supplies water to municipal utilities, agriculture and industrial customers in Bexar and Medina counties and parts of Atascosa, Caldwell, Comal, Guadalupe and Hays counties.

Cities are considering purchasing water from other providers and tightening conservation requirements.

Customers have had to cut their use by 35 percent since certain restrictions went into effect in April. Users who exceed their limit can be fined up to $810 per acre-foot for industrial or municipal users and $410 per acre-foot for irrigators. An acre-foot is 325,851 gallons.

Once-a-week watering

The San Antonio Water System said it will comply with the restrictions but keep a once-a-week schedule for outdoor watering. Other cities that draw exclusively on the aquifer told residents to cut back to twice-a-month watering.

Aquifer authority chairwoman Luana Buckner wishes the San Antonio system would join with neighboring communities in stricter conservation efforts.

“I’d like to see (the San Antonio Water System) rethink their regional commitment,” she told the San Antonio Express-News on Monday.

System spokesman Greg Flores said there are no such plans. “We are enforcing our drought rules like no other city in the state, and we are putting to use the hundreds of millions of dollars that we invested in non-Edwards supplies,” he told the Express-News.

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