Lawn Watering Restrictions in Waco

Man watering green lawn, sprinkling water on the grass with water pistol, close-up with no face

As Waco’s population expands, so does the demand for water. To avoid this demand becoming not only expensive but difficult to supply, Waco created a water conservation plan to reduce water waste during drought. But what are the lawn watering restrictions in Waco?

When the Texas heat starts beating down, water restrictions are a necessary evil. They are strictly monitored, and failure to comply can result in a criminal penalty. It’s important to know what exactly is expected of you so you can do your part to conserve water in the “Athens of Texas.”

What are Waco’s Lawn Watering Restrictions?

To reduce water waste during a drought, the city of Waco enforces restrictions on non-essential water use, which is the use of water that is not necessary for the protection of public health and safety, including:

  • Irrigating parks, athletic fields, and golf courses
  • Washing cars, motorbikes, boats, trailers, or airplanes
  • Washing sidewalks, walkways, driveways, parking lots, or tennis courts
  • Washing buildings for any reason other than immediate fire protection
  • Cleaning gutters
  • Filling or refilling swimming pools or jacuzzis
  • Operating fountains or ponds that don’t support aquatic life
  • Using fire hydrants for any purpose other than firefighting or system maintenance

The city of Waco has a water conservation plan set in place for each stage of drought.

Stage 1: Mild Water Shortage

The rotary nozzle of the automatic watering system waters the juicy young green lawn grass. Selective focus.
Photo Credit: Adobe Stock

The conditions for stage one water restrictions are when the Lake Waco reservoir is at 80% capacity or when the water treatment plant is contaminated or has a system failure. 

Mandatory lawn water restrictions during this time are:

  • All landscape and outdoor water usage is limited to two days a week, depending on the last digit of their street address.
Last Digit of AddressLandscape Watering Days
OddSunday and Friday
EvenMonday and Saturday
  • Outdoor water usage is prohibited from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
  • Since these are storage recovery days, no outdoor watering is allowed on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.

These restrictions will end once Lake Waco’s level increases or the water treatment plant’s system failure is fixed.

Stage 2: Moderate Water Shortage

Once the Lake Waco reservoir is at 60% capacity or 90% of the water stored in all storage facilities cannot be recovered within a 24-hour period, stage two restrictions will take effect. 

The watering schedule from stage one is put in place with a few extra restrictions:

  • After the first 30 days of planting, newly installed landscaping must follow the watering day schedule and hourly restrictions.
  • Golf courses and athletic fields must adhere to the twice-a-week watering schedule.
  • Washing sidewalks, driveways, or buildings is only allowed on outside watering days and is highly discouraged.

Stage 3: Severe Water Shortage

A person's hands under a water faucet
Photo Credit: Adobe Stock

During this stage, the drought has become so bad that the Lake Waco reservoir is at 50% capacity. 

  • Landscape and outdoor water usage has been reduced to one day a week, and the schedule has been completely changed.
Last Digit of AddressLandscape Watering Days
0, 1Monday
2, 3Tuesday
4, 5Wednesday
6, 7Thursday
8, 9Friday
  • Outdoor watering isn’t allowed on Saturday and Sunday.
  • Handheld hoses with automatic shut-off nozzles are only allowed to be used on landscape watering days.
  • Newly installed landscapes must adhere to the landscape watering schedule.
  • Existing swimming pools, hot tubs, ornamental ponds, and fountains may be refilled with a handheld hose to maintain operation. Constructing new swimming pools, hot tubs, ornamental ponds, or fountains is prohibited.
  • Washing buildings, sidewalks, driveways, patios, porches, parking areas, or other paved surfaces is prohibited.
  • Commercial car washes are not allowed to operate.
  • The use of water from fire hydrants is prohibited except during firefighting.

Stage 4: Emergency Water Shortage

Now, the Lake Waco reservoir is at 40% capacity. Water usage in outdoor landscaping, including residential homes, plant nurseries, parks, golf courses, athletic fields, and car washes, is prohibited.

Drip irrigation systems and hand-held hoses are also prohibited. Water is only allowed for firefighting and anything else necessary for public health and safety.

How to Protect Your Waco Lawn From Drought

lawn with damage due to drought
Photo Credit: Tom Britt / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

The best way to protect your lawn from the extreme Texas heat is to take extra good care of it before, during, and after a drought. Here are some tips and tricks:

  • Water your lawn thoroughly but infrequently to encourage deeper root growth.
  • Overseed bare or thin patches of grass.
  • Spot-treat weeds with an herbicide or hand-pull them so that weeds don’t compete with your grass for nutrients.
  • Use a native warm-season grass for Texas.
  • Fertilize your Texas lawn during peak growing season so that it has plenty of nutrients when the drought hits. (Do not fertilize during a drought, as it will burn your grass.)
  • Mow your grass at its highest mowing height.
  • Avoid aerating during a drought. Instead, you should aerate your Texas lawn during early summer or late spring. (Note: Cool-season grasses should be aerated in late summer or early fall.)

How to Save Water in Your Lawn

There are several ways to conserve water in your lawn so that you can use your water efficiently during a drought:

  • Don’t use a hose to clear debris from your driveway or patio; use a broom instead.
  • Harvest rainwater to use for your lawn, garden, and pool.
  • Use mulch from lawn clippings and topdress your lawn with compost to reduce water evaporation.
  • Invest in a drip irrigation system for your garden.
  • Xeriscape your lawn or install native Texas plants.
  • Water early in the morning to reduce evaporation.

FAQ About Water Restrictions in Waco

Is Waco in a Drought?

If you’re a Waco resident and unsure if you’re currently experiencing a drought, you can search your county using the National Integrated Drought Information System

You can also check the news and Lake Waco water levels on the City of Waco’s Water Utility Services page.

How Much Rainwater Can I Collect in Waco?

Waco receives an average of 32 inches of rain per year, so you could harvest up to 32,000 gallons of rainwater. On average, you can collect around 1,000 gallons of water per inch of rainfall on a 2,000 square foot roof.

Is There a Limit to How Much Rainwater You Can Harvest in Waco?

Though some states restrict rainwater harvesting to protect streams, rivers, and other water sources, there are no limitations or restrictions on how much rainwater you can collect in Waco.

Hire a Pro

Want to keep your lawn lush and healthy even during brutal Waco summers? If you could benefit from an expert, Lawnstarter will connect you with lawn care professionals in your area today.

Main Image Credit: Adobe Stock

Lydian Pine

Lydian Pine

Lydian Pine is a creative writer and studio artist whose work first debuted in a short story anthology. She graduated from the University of North Texas in 2020 and enjoys video games, theatre, and swimming. Lately, she has started to study entomology as a hobby.