During Tuesday’s work session, the Stephenville City Council’s Public Works Committee was presented an update on the city’s water conservation and drought contingency plans.

The Water Conservation Committee presented the modifications to the current plans with an overall goal of “conserving water as well as reducing the potential of triggering a drought response stage.”

While the water outlook for Stephenville appears to be positive for many years to come, the idea, as explained by the conservation committee’s Dr. Carol Thompson and Dr. Hennen Cummings, is to be “proactive” in protecting the most vital natural resource.

Stages two (moderate water shortage conditions) and three (severe water shortage) of the city’s current drought contingency plan restricts the watering of lawns to 6-9 a.m. and 6-9 p.m. during drought response stages. Stage three also prohibits the use of permanently installed automatic sprinkler systems and hose-end sprinklers, and allows only hand-held hoses, buckets or drip irrigation for watering, the allowable watering methods prevent evaporation experienced when using sprinklers.

The contingency plan also restricts restaurants from serving water to customers by request only during drought response stages.

Proposed changes to the plan set forth guidelines for conserving water year-round. The three proposed changes include watering hours of 6 p.m.-11 a.m. throughout the year, which does not apply to hand watering and soaker hoses; would require the use of a positive shutoff nozzle when washing vehicles; and would require that property owners have professionally designed irrigation systems. The statute proposes no lockout or quantity restrictions.

Thompson said the changes are not being proposed to create hardships for citizens, but are an opportunity to re-educate citizens about water conservation and create generations of water conscious consumers.

Cummings explained that requiring professionally designed irrigation systems would better guarantee lawns are not being over watered and would also prevent citizens from “watering to dry spots.” He said lawns would get the amount of water needed to maintain a healthy lawn and ensure that certain areas were not over watered. While the changes were discussed at the work session, no formal changes were made. The Public Works Committee voted to forward the amendments to the full council for a vote on April 7.