Saving Money and Water During Drought
While droughts can be economically damaging for a region, particularly in agricultural areas, drought response planning can help a region prepare for droughts and minimize a drought’s economic impact.
Many water planners propose that we should build enough dams, pipelines and pumps to fully supply even the most extravagant uses of water during severe droughts. However, constructing new water supply capacity solely to meet nonessential water uses during severe droughts is a fiscally irresponsible use of public dollars.
By reducing non-essential uses, such as lawn watering and car washing, during peak demand periods in summer, especially during drought periods, water suppliers can reduce the size of the necessary infrastructure, resulting in a tremendous economic savings.
In a 2012 survey of 18 Texas cities, The Texas Living Waters Project found water use increases by an average of 58% percent during the summer months primarily because of landscape watering. If these 18 cities could reduce this increase by just 25%, they could save a combined 147 million gallons every day during the summer.
For example, in San Antonio, drought restrictions reduced total water use by an estimated 24,000 to 30,000 acre-feet in San Antonio during the extremely dry year of 2009. This reduction was on top of San Antonio’s already low per-capita water use. Implementation of these restrictions to meet water needs cost an estimated $25 per acre-foot, which is many times less than the cost of developing new water supplies to meet summer peak demand.
In addition, due to drought management measures, water use in Lubbock during the 2011 drought fell by 25%.