Even though rainfall amounts for the year are almost twice the 30-year average, Mayor Rusty Jergins announced last week that Stage 1 of the Drought Contingency Plan for the city was effective as of May 1.

Stage 1 of the plan provides that residents voluntarily conserve water and limit watering of landscaped areas to two days a week.

The Stephenville City Council adopted the Drought Contingency Plan in 1999 after legislation was enacted requiring cities to develop Crisis Management Plans and Drought Contingency Plans.

The purpose of the contingency plan is to conserve the available water supply, protect the integrity of the water supply facilities and minimize the adverse impacts of water shortages.

The mayor monitors the water usage throughout the summer months and may implement the other stages outlined in the plan based on demand and other conditions.

Stage 1 provides that residents will conserve water on a voluntary basis and limit watering landscaped areas to twice a week. There is no designation of the days that residents will be allowed to water. Landscape watering should be between the hours of 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Stage 2 of the plan is implemented when total daily water demand equals or exceeds 4 million gallons per day for five consecutive days or 4.8 million gallons per day on any single day. At this point, water conservation becomes mandatory rather than voluntary. Stage 2 of the plan may be rescinded when the conditions that triggered the implementation cease to exist for a period of 10 consecutive days.

Stage 2 of the plan restricts outdoor watering to between the hours of 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., every day except Monday and Thursday when watering is not permitted. Like Stage 1, watering is limited to two days a week.

Stage 3 of the plan may be implemented when water usage exceeds 4 million gallons a day for five consecutive days or 4.8 million gallons on a single day and/or the treated water reservoir levels do not refill overnight.

Stage 4 of the plan may be implemented when a water supply emergency exists because of major water line breaks or pump or system failures or because of natural or man-made contamination of the water supply source.

Stage 3 and 4 restrictions are more stringent and limit activities such as washing cars and filling swimming pools.

“We ask that all our water customers be good stewards of this resource,” Jergins said.