Watering Schedule FAQ's
When did the mandatory twice-weekly watering schedule become part of the Water Conservation Ordinance?
The maximum twice-weekly watering schedule went into effect on April 23, 2012.
Why is outdoor watering restricted?
The Water Conservation ordinance focuses on outdoor watering because it is considered a non-essential use and, on average, accounts for approximately 30% of our total annual water use.
Are there any other reasons for the mandatory schedule?
Water is a critical issue in the state of Texas. We are susceptible to drought and the population continues to grow – it is projected to double in North Texas by 2060. All water providers in Texas are working very hard to ensure we have enough water for the future, but we must use existing supplies efficiently before additional sources are likely to be built. Aggressive water conservation efforts are critical to demonstrate that our region is using existing resources responsibly.
Can I use drip irrigation, a soaker hose or hand water between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. on any day?
Residents are restricted from watering between 10:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. from April 1 through October 31 every year. Hand watering and soaker hoses will be permitted at any time. In addition, lawn and landscape watering is restricted to two assigned days per week. Variances may be available in certain circumstances.
What about my vegetable garden?
Personal and community vegetable gardens are allowed to water any day with drip irrigation, soaker hoses or hand watering. Experts agree these are the best ways to water for healthy vegetable gardens.
I’m not using Dallas water on my landscape, does the watering schedule apply to me?
Residents or businesses using non-potable water for irrigation (rainwater, well water or grey water) are not required to follow the watering schedule. However, if the alternate source watering system is permanently installed, a building permit is required and a small purple sign stating that non-potable water is in use. This requirement is for public safety and public health reasons. For more information on those requirements, please see section J106, page 11 of the Irrigation Systems Ordinance. Wholesale raw water customers, depending on the terms of their contract with DWU, may also be exempt from the mandatory schedule.
Can I keep my landscape alive if I can only water twice per week?
Horticultural experts agree that landscapes are healthiest with deep and infrequent watering. Even in the heat of summer, landscapes only need about one inch of water every 5 to 10 days to thrive. Watering your landscape often encourages shallow roots, which are more susceptible to damage from extreme heat, freezing temperatures, pests, diseases and future drought conditions. Once established, native or adapted plants require even less water – in the right conditions some perennial flowers can go weeks without supplemental watering.
Keep in mind that signs of heat stress are similar to the signs of a plant needing more water. If a plant is drooping in the afternoon, check it the next morning. If it looks OK, the plant is reacting to the high air temperature. Also check the soil – the surface area may feel dry, but check a few inches below the surface. The soil below may still have plenty of water. This will prevent the accidental drowning of your landscape. Three to four inches of mulch can also make a big difference in shading the soil and reducing evaporation.
But I’m trying to establish a new lawn or new landscaping – how can I do that on a twice-weekly watering schedule?
Temporary variances will be allowed for new landscaping. Applications for variances to the Water Conservation Ordinance are available on the Variance webpage. Hard copies can be obtained for those without access to the Internet by calling (214) 670-3155. Variances will be considered for both residential and commercial customers.
If you are only planting a few new shrubs or a new tree, those can be watered with a soaker hose, hand watering or drip irrigation on any day without a variance.
Please be aware that if conditions require that Dallas go into the Drought Contingency Plan, variances to establish cool season grasses (such as winter rye and others) will not be considered.
What about golf courses and other large properties that cannot be physically watered on a single day?
Very large properties, golf courses and athletic fields also may request variances to the watering schedule on the Variance webpage but are required to reduce consumption by 5%, based on their previous 5-year average consumption. If a large property does not obtain a variance, and waters outside the mandatory maximum schedule, they will be in violation of the ordinance.
Are there any other types of variances being considered?
There may be other situations where the watering schedule may not be manageable. Types of variances and forms can be found on the Variance webpage.
Exceptions to the watering schedule are also made for irrigation professionals working on or checking on irrigation systems. Irrigation professionals must be on site for there to be an exemption from day of week or time of day restrictions. Commercial nurseries are also exempt from the watering schedule and time of day requirements.
Are DWU’s wholesale customer cities required to implement a mandatory twice-weekly schedule?
Each wholesale city’s contract requires water conservation measures. And while some wholesale cities have implemented the mandatory twice weekly schedule, they cannot be compelled to mirror City of Dallas requirements. Customer city mayors were briefed on the new twice-weekly watering schedule and encouraged to implement a similar schedule in their cities.
Dallas has been pushing for conservation for a while. Have those efforts succeeded?
YES! Although the City has encouraged conservation for many years, since the City began a more concentrated effort in 2001, Dallas residents and businesses have reduced our gallons per capita per day by 30% resulting in a projected water savings of 398 billion gallons.
I don’t live in Dallas. Where can I go for more information on watering restrictions in other cities in North Texas?
For information on other cities, visit SaveNorthTexasWater.com.
Are City of Dallas properties required to observe watering restrictions?
All City of Dallas parks, golf courses and other City of Dallas properties are required to observe watering restrictions. Large parks and golf courses may have variances to the twice-weekly watering schedule because the properties are too large to water in one day. Large property variances are also available to customers on the Variance webpage.