“(The former plan) gave a false sense that we were always running out of water, and that’s not the case,” McComb said.

Under the new plan, stage one restrictions, which are voluntary, would not start unless the combined capacity of the Choke Canyon Reservoir and Lake Corpus Christi dropped below 50 percent — or if Lake Texana dropped below 40 percent — for 15 consecutive days.

The last time that happened was late 2014 or early 2015, said Esteban Ramos, the city’s water resource manager.

He added the new plan will help residents better understand when drought conditions need to be addressed, and create an urgency to contribute should water levels diminish.

“Citizens should not be afraid of a drought, but we should be informed and prepared for it,” Ramos said. “This plan does that.”

Another factor behind the switch, McComb explained, was encouraging a “more efficient” use of water. Reports to the council indicated as much as 60 percent of the water in the Choke Canyon Reservoir is lost to evaporation.

“This gives us the opportunity to use that water,” McComb said.

Still, city leaders are encouraging residents to water before 10 a.m. or after 6 p.m. to avoid the water evaporating before it can reach the root system of lawns.

McComb said ExxonMobil’s recent decision to build a multi-billion dollar facility in San Patricio County is evidence of the city’s strong position in terms of water supply and justification for the drought contingency plan shift.

“You can never have too much water, but we have enough now to attract development and keep our lawns and parks green,” McComb said.