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Are off-channel reservoirs the environmentally-friendly water storage solution we’ve been searching for?

Many of us have fond memories of spending time swimming, boating and fishing in Texas’ lakes. From Lake Livingston in East Texas, to Lake Travis in the Hill Country or Lake Granbury in North Texas, these lakes are important destinations for countless families. But while so many of us remember the impact these “lakes” have had on our lives, many of us may not  realize that these “lakes” are actually man-made water supply reservoirs.Wheeler Branch Lake Reservoir. Photo courtesy of Carla Borghesi ClarkOn-Channel or Off-Channel Reservoirs: What’s the difference?There are a total of 196 “major” reservoirs (major meaning it can hold more than 5,000 acre-feet of water) across the...

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My Living Waters: Dianne Wassenich’s lifelong mission to protect the San Marcos River

Dianne Wassenich, San Marcos River Foundation program directorYou’ll find the city of San Marcos – aptly nicknamed San Marvelous – nestled in-between Austin and San Antonio, where life seems to revolve around two things: Texas State University and the San Marcos River. At the heart of it is Dianne Wassenich, program director of the small but effective San Marcos River Foundation and, for all intents and purposes, matriarch of the community built around the effervescent springs of the San Marcos River.We’re big fans of Dianne here at the Texas Living Waters Project, and we can think of no better way to kick off our series about Texas water heroes...

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Texas Water Conservation Scorecard is named 2017 Blue Legacy Awards winner

We are excited to announce the Texas Living Waters Project's Water Conservation Scorecard has been recognized as a 2017 Blue Legacy Awards winner in the Innovative Projects category. The Water Conservation Scorecard, released May 2016, is the result of a statewide analysis of more than 300 public water utilities to find whether Texas’ water suppliers are making their best efforts to reduce per capita water use.The annual Blue Legacy Awards, administered by the Water Conservation Advisory Council, celebrate "innovators who champion the preservation of the state's most precious resource, water." The 2017 award winners have been named in categories including agricultural, municipal, river authority or regional water district, and innovative projects.The Texas Living...

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Texas Water Conservation Scorecard is nationally recognized for its “broader implications for water utility professionals outside [Texas]”

The Texas Water Conservation Scorecard has been featured as the March 2017 cover story in the Journal of the American Water Works Association, a nationally-renowned publication that features thought leadership from water industry professionals.This feature elevates Texas water utilities and the public scorings of their water conservation efforts to national attention within the water and wastewater industries, as well as establishes a precedent for other states hoping to build a sense of collaborative transparency around municipal water conservation. You can download and read the Journal article by clicking here.The Texas Water Conservation Scorecard, which we released in May 2016, is the result of a statewide analysis of more than 300 public water utilities...

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Is your water utility taking steps to conserve our most precious resource?

While there are numerous ways to manage water in Texas, conservation is one of the cheapest and most environmentally beneficial strategies that can be used. More and more utilities are understanding these benefits and are implementing water conservation strategies in their communities. A new way to finance water conservation projects is the State Water Implementation Fund for Texas (SWIFT), a water infrastructure financing program made available through the Texas Water Development Board.One of the great aspects of SWIFT is that 20 percent of funds are set aside for water conservation and reuse projects. The Sierra Club and their partners in the Texas Living Waters project successfully advocated for this set-aside for water conservation...

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Getting desalination right in Texas

By Tom Spencer and Myron HessThe intense drought that had Texas in its grip from 2010 – 2015 still haunts the state – reservoirs shrank to alarming levels, homeowners struggled to keep their landscapes alive, wild fires raged, and agricultural losses ran into the billions of dollars.Against this backdrop, the idea of desalinating water from the Gulf of Mexico to create a drought-proof supply for use in homes, farms, and factories has great appeal. In response to two pieces of legislation passed in 2015, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) proposed rules earlier this year to streamline the authorization process for desalination facilities to make water withdrawals and discharges along the Gulf....

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Desalination could harm Texas Bays

 Written by Tom SpencerAugust 2, 2016 Rubbing Salt in the WoundIn the best of times, Texas’ bays are teeming with life thanks to a vital mix of fresh and salt water. But, let’s face it, Texas’ bays have seen better times.Overuse of water by humans and the drought of 2011 – 2015 endangered fish, shell fish and game by slowing the flow of freshwater into the bays. Then, earlier this year, historic floods overwhelmed the bays with too much freshwater throwing the necessary salt and fresh water balance out of whack.How can we help our bays to thrive? One way is to not rub salt into their wounds.Responding to recently passed legislation, the Texas...

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Water Efficiency Networks: Regional Cooperation and Success on Water Conservation

Effective water conservation measures shouldn’t stop at jurisdictional boundaries such as city or county lines and knowledge shouldn’t either. This is the foundation of the Water Efficiency Networks in Central Texas and the Gulf Coast region.What is a Water Efficiency Network?A Water Efficiency Network (WEN) is a group of water providers and water conservation advocates that meet monthly with the purpose of learning about the latest conservation tools being used locally and globally and to openly and actively share information with peers about efficiency education, legislation, programs, and technologies.   The goal is to share information, learn from each other and to regionally have an impact on water supplies and use. At these...

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The best time to plan for drought is when we aren’t in one

Drought is nothing new to Texans; it is frequent and inevitable. Across much of Texas the end of the current drought is being declared—soil moisture levels are nearing normal and ephemeral rivers are flowing again—while other portions of the state are already on the verge of slipping back into drought conditions despite recent rains. This reprieve from drought is a most welcome relief, yet we can be certain there is another drought around the corner.Drought, unlike a hurricane or flood, doesn’t have a distinct beginning or end. Drought is a creeping phenomenon that is, in the most basic terms, defined by the lack of precipitation. However, some municipalities define drought by water treatment...

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Environmental Flow Battle on the Brazos

As Texas ebbs and flows between drought and flooding, one of the largest applications for a surface water right that the state has ever seen has been slowly progressing through the administrative legal system. As proposed by the Brazos River Authority (BRA) and TCEQ’s Executive Director, the permit does not come close to protecting environmental flows adequate to protect a sound ecological environment.TCEQ adopted environmental flow standards in 2014 for the Brazos basin as part of the Senate Bill 3 (S.B.3) environmental flow process. Under S.B.3 all pending water right applications in that basin are required to comply with those standards. Unfortunately, those standards, adopted through a lengthy process, fall short of what...

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