Austin’s Fonda San Miguel getting around water restrictions

Fonda San Miguel doesn’t use a single drop of City of Austin water and is saving thousands of dollars in operating costs.

AUSTIN, Texas — The City of Austin is currently under Stage 2 watering restrictions, which can have an effect on local businesses. However, one restaurant has come up with a creative way to keep its landscaping thriving without violating the restrictions. 

The property manager at Fonda San Miguel in northwest Austin, Diego Rodriguez, said he doesn’t use a single drop of City water when attending to the restaurant’s landscape – and because of that, he’s saving thousands of dollars in operating costs. 

Rodriguez said the idea came to him when he noticed a large amount of water pooling in the street when the drain into the City’s water and wastewater system was temporarily clogged. 

“It was a bunch of water running into the roots, and I noticed it was water from the condensation, from the AC units. I wanted to just catch the water and see how much water we can collect,” Rodriguez said. “I did it one day, and I got 1,000 liters of water just from the condensation.”

Rodriguez came up with a solution to recapture the water, and now it provides more than enough to meet all of the restaurant’s outdoor watering needs. He began working on the system in late June, weeks before the City’s watering restrictions took effect in mid-August. Rodriguez estimates the system collects about 250 gallons per day.

“That’s why I decided to get a second tank. Because I was like, ‘Man, what am I going to do? What if I don’t use the water in one for 24 hours?’ So, I just had to have another one. I think I’m going to collect rainwater also,” Rodriguez said.

Fonda San Miguel has five air conditioning units, but for other businesses struggling with watering their landscaping Rodriguez said this could be an option. In the future, he’s planning to try and get water from the restaurant’s refrigeration units instead of having it go down the drain. 

The City of Austin has a list of guidelines and rebates offered for businesses and homeowners interested in installing similar systems. Learn more. 

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