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Rain gardens are like do-it-yourself backyard aquifers that recharge your plants and trees.

Slow the flow with rain gardens

For most Texas gardeners there is no more welcome event than a good rain. Those of us living in the Central or Western parts of the state cheer nearly any rainfall, and increasingly, many of us are finding creative ways to hold onto and more fully benefit from what some folks call “Mother Nature’s Finest” – rain water. Those who water by hand appreciate rain because it saves us a lot of time and effort, while those with irrigation systems, at least those who remember to reset their sprinklers when it does rain, appreciate it because it helps lower their water bills. But, beyond those benefits, all true gardeners can actually see the difference...

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Why water conservation matters, even when it’s raining

Picture this familiar scenario: you’re snug on your couch, nursing a cup of tea as your thoughts drift from the muted percussions of raindrops smattering the window beside you. Or maybe you’re gripping an umbrella in one hand and a teetering armful of work to-dos in the other, dodging parking lot puddles on the rainy trek to your car. Wherever we find ourselves when a rain shower hits, I’m willing to wager that water conservation is one of the last things on our minds in those moments and the weeks that follow. It’s easy to think about conserving water when our streams are visibly parched and the word “drought” meets us at every turn...

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Fatmucket, heelsplitter and pimpleback are three types of Texas freshwater mussels

Fewer heelsplitters, fatmuckets and pimplebacks signals trouble for Texas rivers

Wildlife populations around the world are declining rapidly, but as our streams and rivers face an onslaught of challenges, the outlook is especially poor for freshwater species. And, near the top of the list of species in trouble are 15 species of colorfully-named Texas mussels. Texas is home to a sizeable portion of the about 300 mussel species native to the U.S., with 53 species of native mussels claiming Texas roots. Unfortunately, we haven’t treated these Texas natives very well, with 15 of those species currently listed as threatened by the State of Texas. Although being listed by the state wins mussels a little extra attention, it actually provides very little legal protection. In...

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Luling-Zedler paddling trail is one of the Texas Paddling Trails

Thanks to Texas Paddling Trails, your adventure bucket list just got longer

Clear your weekends to make room for one of Texas’ best-kept accidental secrets: a statewide network of 74 public access paddling trails for year-long outdoor enjoyment, with more trail launches on the way. These inland and coastal trails range anywhere from three to 25 miles in length. While most of these stretches are peaceful and beginner-friendly, more experienced paddlers can explore longer trails for an extra challenge. The Caddo Lake region alone includes more than 50 miles of official paddling trails, and the 40-mile series of connecting trails in the Port O’Conner Paddling Trail takes adventuresome paddlers past both Civil War remains and the Matagorda Island Lighthouse. No kayak? No problem. Each trail on the...

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Galveston Bay needs thriving oysters. Here’s how you can help.

If you’ve ever visited the Texas Gulf Coast, it’s probably no surprise that the Galveston Bay isn’t just the most productive bay in Texas – it’s also considered one of the most productive in the nation. Despite this, the Bay is up against real challenges, including a gradual loss of its oysters. The Eastern Oyster, or Crassostrea virginica, is common in Galveston Bay and considered a “keystone species.” This means that Eastern Oysters are essential to the Bay for several reasons, one of which is that many fish and wildlife would struggle to survive without them. Hurricane Harvey’s total impact on Galveston Bay oysters is still unclear. Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s oyster restoration specialist,...

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Texas utilities, it’s time to put together your SWIFT plan

When it comes to cutting unnecessary water use, utilities can play a major leadership role – that’s why it’s a big deal that Texas water utilities have begun using the State Water Implementation Fund (SWIFT) to invest in conservation, for projects big and small. Water conservation is necessary to make sure Texas has enough water, now and into the future. If your utility is investing in water efficiency in a big way, using SWIFT’s low-interest loans can save money.  Depending on the scale of the project, the reduced interest rates available through SWIFT can save significant money for both the utility and ratepayers. SWIFT savings City of Bedford saved $11 million on their $90 million...

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Houston after Harvey: From chaos to opportunity

Waiting for Hurricane Harvey to hit the Gulf Coast was like being on the Titanic – trapped and reduced to intense anticipation, all too aware that Houston would flood in a matter of hours. On Friday afternoon of Aug. 25, I was one of the many Houstonians who anxiously gathered our families together as Hurricane Harvey approached the Corpus Christi coast. We were defenseless to the oncoming deluge, waiting impatiently as news reports filled our homes with grim reports about Houston’s inability to cope with an event of this magnitude. When Harvey landed in the Rockport and Port Aransas region, the first symptoms of the storm clearly materialized in a matter of minutes. While there...

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How does the PACE program work?

Texas finds its PACE when it comes to water efficiency

Water and financial savings are adding up across Texas as more property owners and developers use PACE Financing for water-efficient upgrades inside and outside their buildings. The Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program has now financed six projects that are in the works in the Dallas, Central Texas and Houston areas. While the Simon Property Group is leading the way with five projects, more than any other group in Texas, Alterra International recently closed the largest PACE-financed project in Texas with their renovation and redevelopment of the Butler Brothers Building in downtown Dallas. The Simon Property Group PACE projects include the Barton Creek Square Mall in Austin, Lakeline Mall in Cedar Park, the Round...

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