It is very common in many American Novus Ordo parishes for the Holy Water to be removed from the fonts throughout the duration of Lent, which is supposed to symbolize the "barrenness" of Christ's forty days in the wilderness. Sometimes the water is replaced by sand, ashes, rocks or some other material that symbolizes aridity. While we know Holy Water is typically removed during the Triduum, is there any clear direction from the Church on whether this is to be done throughout the entirety of Lent?
The answer is yes. We have it from the CDWS in a response dated March 14th, 2003 (this was also reiterated in another statement of 3/23/04):
"This Dicastery is able to respond that the removing of Holy Water from the fonts during the season of Lent is not permitted, in particular, for two reasons:
1. The liturgical legislation in force does not foresee this innovation, which in addition to being 'praeter legem' is contrary to a balanced understanding of the season of Lent, which though truly being a season of penance, is also a season rich in the symbolism of water and baptism, constantly evoked in liturgical texts.
2. The encouragement of the Church that the faithful avail themselves frequently of the sacraments is to be understood to apply also to the season of Lent. The 'fast' and 'abstinence' which the faithful embrace in this season does not extend to abstaining from the sacraments or sacramentals of the Church. "The practice of the Church has been to empty the Holy Water fonts on the days of the Sacred Triduum in preparation of the blessing of the water at the Easter Vigil, and it corresponds to those days on which the Eucharist is not celebrated (i.e., Good Friday and Holy Saturday)."
You can read the original document on Zenit here (at the bottom of the article), but the same statement is easily available from many other sites including Fr. Z. Holy Water is an important sacramental and is able to be a means of grace for those who utilize it with the proper dispositions; why would we want to deprive the faithful of this during the Lenten period? Holy Water should not be removed during Lent, and this is absolutely authoritative.