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Author: Jennifer Walker

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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LCRA to Take Matagorda Bay Off Life Support?

UPDATE 9/19: The LCRA Board voted 9-6 yesterday to seek emergency authorization from TCEQ to temporarily suspend freshwater inflows to Matagorda Bay. ORIGINAL POST 9/12: Matagorda Bay is the second largest estuary on the Texas Gulf Coast.  The Bay stretches over approximately 350 square miles and, in a normal year, receives an average of 1.8 million acre-feet of inflows from the Colorado River. So far this year, bay inflows have been about 150,000 acre-feet.   Tuesday, the LCRA Board met to discuss the fate of Matagorda Bay.  More about that in a moment – but first let’s explain how we got there. The Colorado and Matagorda Bay As the stewards of the Lower Colorado River, the LCRA is...

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