The sign hanging over Canyon Lake Water Service Company’s (CLWSC) Sattler office admonishes customers to “Make Every Drop Count.” But a significant number of customers are wasting bucketfuls of water anyway despite warnings the company issued last week after a zebra-mussel incursion blocked intake pipes at the Canyon Lake Shores treatment plant, creating concerns about water storage.
According to an advisory reissued this morning, residents are not permitted to water or irrigate lawns or any properties after dark and are asked to limit indoor consumption. CLWSC said usage patterns indicate some customers are flaunting the rules, which could create major headaches throughout the system especially as new concerns arise about the water supply on the south side of Canyon Lake, which includes Startzville, Smithson Valley, Sattler and Vintage Oaks.
Some 60 percent of all drinking water is currently being used for watering grass and landscape irrigation, CLWSC warned.
The utility said it is continuously monitoring storage tanks, wells, valves, and the treatment plants, and technicians are constantly making adjustments up and down the system.
CLWSC does regular monitoring and maintenance for both zebra mussels and main breaks/leaks, as well as of other key features in the water system, Jackson said. However, the past two weeks have been a “perfect storm” scenario across the utility and all employees are working to get back to normal.
The initial infestation blocked intake pipes at CLWSC’s Canyon Lake Shores treatment plant and other points in the system serving the north side of Canyon Lake as well as the cities of Blanco, Spring Branch and Bulverde, forcing the utility to issue its first advisory on July 23.
Today, CLWSC announced that “inopportune” transmission line breaks along State Highway 281 and FM 306 last week, coupled with similar issues on the south side of Canyon Lake, which includes Startzville, Smithson Valley, Sattler and Vintage Oaks, could storage levels to drop further.
“If we could have users limit usage to indoor usage, it would go a long way to moving us out of this emergency situation,” Larry Jackson, CLWSC manager of customer said in an email this morning. “With that said, along with no rain in our forecast, it is difficult to estimate when this level of water restriction will be lifted.”
Without customer cooperation, further restrictions could be implemented. CLWSC said its main priority is to have drinking water supply to meet the health and safety of its customers
“We understand this is a difficult situation for users and we are asking everyone to partner with us as we work through this situation,” Jackson said.
Zebra Mussels in Canyon Lake
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) fisheries biologists and game wardens confirmed the presence of zebra mussels at Canyon Lake in June 2017.
Employees at Canyon Lake Marina noticed the zebra mussels while working on a boat that had been stored in a slip at Crane’s Mill Marina and contacted TPWD to report the discovery and to get verification.
“This is the first positive documentation of zebra mussels in Canyon Lake and in the Guadalupe River Basin,” said Brian Van Zee, Inland Fisheries regional director for TPWD. “Although marina staff has intercepted several incoming boats over the years that had invasive mussels attached, it is essential that boats stored on infested lakes be decontaminated before they’re moved as they are a key pathway for spreading this invasive species.”
The rapidly reproducing zebra mussels, originally from Eurasia, can have serious economic, environmental and recreational impacts on Texas reservoirs and rivers. Zebra mussels can cover shoreline rocks and litter beaches with treacherously sharp shells, clog public-water intakes, and damage boats and motors left in infested waters.
“It’s very unfortunate not only for the reservoir but also for downstream resources – including the Guadalupe River and the reservoirs downstream from Canyon Dam,” Van Zee said.
“With the Canyon Lake Shores water treatment plant partially operational (due to the zebra mussel incursion) and some inopportune transmission line breaks over the last week (both along Hwy 281 and FM 306), we’ve been challenged to maintain storage levels at multiple places in the system that serves the north side of Canyon Lake as well as the cities of Blanco, Spring Branch, and Bulverde. We are continuously monitoring storage tanks, wells, valves, and the treatment plants, and our technicians are constantly making adjustments up and down the system.
“What we are observing is that water storage levels recover a little during the day, but then drop significantly at night – and this is greatly exacerbating the problem. Based on usage patterns, we can see some users are not adhering to our request to limit usage to indoor use only and are continuing to water grass and irrigate landscaping during the night. If we could have users limit usage to indoor usage, it would go a long way to moving us out of this emergency situation. With that said, along with no rain in our forecast, it is difficult to estimate when this level of water restrictions will be lifted.
“Incidentally, we are having similar issues on the south side of Canyon Lake (e.g., Starzville, Smithson Valley, Sattler, Vintage Oaks). While they aren’t in an emergency situation, we are seeing storage levels drop in a way that suggests that some users are also not adhering to our year-round watering schedule. If this continues, we may have to declare further water restrictions in this system as well.
“We understand this is a difficult situation for users and we are asking everyone to partner with us as we work through this situation. Our main priority is to have drinking water supply to meet the health and safety of our customers. That’s our primary function and our state requirement as a utility. However, with over 60% of the drinking water being used for watering grass and landscape irrigation during the summer, it can certainly be a challenge. Nevertheless, we are still working tirelessly to meet this extra demand.”