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Author: Jennifer Walker

Keeping Rivers Flowing in Texas

Summer is coming and that means beating the heat by spending time at the river. For my family, that means swimming in the Pedernales, fishing along the Colorado, and tubing in the San Marcos. Rivers play an important role in the lives of Texans all over the state. Rivers connect communities, provide vital fish and wildlife habitat and supply essential freshwater to feed the nursery areas in our bays and estuaries along the Texas coast. Unfortunately, as important as Texas rivers are, we cannot always assume that the water our natural systems need will be there. It takes proactive management, thoughtful policy-making and the hard work of people, governments and organizations that care about...

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Designing Water Rate Structures for Conservation and Revenue Stability

As we have written many times before, water conservation is critical to meeting the future water needs of Texas.  Many programs may be implemented to reduce water use, and a number of utilities across the State are making strong efforts to advance water conservation. One of the most effective methods to driving conservation is water pricing.  Used effectively, price can provide a signal to users regarding the value and supply of water so they can adjust their demand accordingly. Unfortunately, rates are also the primary revenue mechanism for utilities that are also tasked with protecting public health and the environment. This can create a disincentive to increase conservation.  Fixing this conflict requires rethinking...

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Gulf Coast Water Providers get Immersed in Water Conservation

If there’s one topic that draws a crowd in Texas these days it’s how to meet our state’s water supply challenges. That’s why 150+ people turned out on a cold winter day in Houston for the 3rd Annual Gulf Coast Water Conservation Symposium, held on January 23rd.  This conference focused on the region that covers the Houston-Galveston area, including fast-growing suburban Brazoria, Fort Bend, and Montgomery Counties. The goal of the symposium was to provide area elected officials, senior government managers, water utility staff, business and community leaders, and advocates crucial information about water conservation best practices from state and national leaders so that they may plan for and implement programs that reduce water...

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Let’s Talk About Turf

Now that we have survived another hot, dry summer and are firmly in the fall season, it is time to turn off the irrigation systems and take a moment to think about lawns. Outdoor water use can be a significant part of a household’s total water use, especially if the home has an irrigation system.  Homes with irrigation systems can use 50% to 100% more water on average than homes where someone manually irrigates with a hose and/or sprinkler. What Cities Can Do A new study from the Texas Water Resources Institute at Texas A&M shows that 46.6% of municipal water use is for “urban irrigation”, defined as lawns and golf courses.  This amounts to 2.262...

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Cutting off Matagorda Bay’s Water is Unwise and Inconsistent with Texas Law

Previously, we posted about LCRA’s decision to seek emergency authorization from TCEQ to allow them to diverge from their Water Management Plan and suspend river flows to Matagorda Bay LCRA submitted their request to TCEQ on Thursday, September 26th.  We will lay out the process at TCEQ in another post.  Our current guess is that TCEQ may not take action on the request until mid-late October. This request is unprecedented and should be approached with an abundance of caution.  It is important to know the water in question here is to provide “critical flows” to Matagorda Bay.  This minimal level of freshwater inflows is designed to provide a sanctuary area near the mouth of the...

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