Issue Papers and Publications

Texas Water Conservation Scorecard

May 2016

The Texas Water Conservation Scorecard is the first-of-its-kind in-depth analysis and ranking of the water conservation efforts of more than 300 water utilities in Texas. Based on publicly available information, the Scorecard reveals a wide disparity of effort and information on what is being done to conserve the Lone Star state’s most precious resource: water.

The Scorecard is an evaluation of utilities based largely on their level of effort to advance water conservation, and to a lesser extent on their achievements. Scoring criteria included a utility’s compliance with water conservation planning and reporting requirements, its record on water loss and meeting targets for water use reduction, outdoor watering limits, and rate-based incentives for efficient use of water. Large and medium-size utilities (serving 25,000 customers or more) were evaluated on ten criteria while smaller utilities (serving less than 25,000) were rated on six criteria.

Visit Scorecard Webpage

PDF of Scorecard

Facts About Texas Water (English & Spanish)

May 2016

The 2nd edition of Facts About Texas Water is available in English and Spanish.  Facts About Texas Water is intended to give all Texans—young and old, urban and rural— basic information about water that will help us understand this important resource and how to use and protect it.  Facts About Texas Water was prepared for the 7th/8th grade student, but is useful to all Texans that want to learn basic information about your water supply and how to appreciate, conserve, and protect this valuable resource.

Download PDF – English

Download PDF – Spanish

We have a limited amount of printed copies available free of charge for educational activities.  Please contact us to inquire about availability.


Navigating the SWIFT Application Process: Water Conservation Projects

November 2016

The Texas Living Waters Project has designed Navigating the SWIFT Application Process: Water Conservation Projects to assist small-to-mid-sized utilities in evaluating the funding strategies available to them for implementing their water conservation projects. This document focuses primarily on the State Water Implementation Fund for Texas (SWIFT) and includes a detailed description of the application process established by the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB).

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Water conservation by the yard-estimated savings from outdoor watering restrictions

March 2015

Outdoor water use, particularly lawn watering, accounts for almost one third of annual residential water use in Texas, and can represent a much higher percentage during our hot, dry summers. Studies show that homeowners have a tendency to overwater landscapes by as much as two to three times the amount needed.

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Designing Water Rate Structures for Conservation and Revenue Stability

February 2014

Water pricing can be one of the most effective methods to driving conservation and it is also the primary mechanism for recovering the revenue that a water utility needs to protect public health and the environment.  The Environmental Finance Center at the University of North Carolina and the Sierra Club, Lone Star Chapter have written a report to help Texas water utilities use their water rates and financial policies to encourage customers to reduce their water use while maintaining the financial viability of the utility.

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View Webinar Recording

Download  Webinar Slides

Webinar Q&A Transcript

Webinar Information:  UNC and the Sierra Club hosted a webinar on March 19 that focused on the findings and recommendations of our new report that explores the relationship between water pricing, water use, and revenue stability in the State of Texas.  The webinar addresses how utilities can strike a balance between conservation and revenue stability and introduce rate structures, billing options, and financial practices that will help utilities advance water conservation objectives without undercutting needed revenue stability.



February 2014

Why is LCRA asking for an emergency order from TCEQ?

Without some type of emergency order, the Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA) would be required to start making releases of water from lakes Buchanan and Travis for downstream rice irrigation. Those releases are called for in the current version of the Water Management Plan (WMP) that governs the water rights for the lakes….LCRA has been operating the two lakes under a series of emergency orders—an individual emergency order can last six months—during the last two years. However, LCRA has asked for a very different emergency order this time.

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Desalination: Is it Worth its Salt?

November 2013

Desalination is often viewed as a solution to many water supply problems and is often hailed as a ‘drought resistant’ supply. This report explores the environmental, energy, and economic issues surrounding desalination and provides an overview of desalination activities in Texas.

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Thirsting for Less: Water Conservation Progress and Potential in North Central Texas

December 2012

Conserving Texas’ water through increasing efficiency, reducing waste, and lowering demand is ever more important in our rapidly growing state. This report evaluates water conservation efforts in North Central Texas and recommends additional local, regional, and state actions that could be taken so that the full potential of conservation to meet water needs may be achieved.

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Examining Bay Salinity Patterns and Limits to Rangia cuneata Populations in Texas Estuaries

December 2012

by Dr. Norman Johns
National Wildlife Federation, Austin, Texas

The brackish water clam Atlantic Rangia cuneata (Rangia cuneata), is an important native species in the upper portion of most Texas estuaries. Rangia cuneata clams are of ecological significance because of their role as a filter feeder, converting detritus and phytoplankton into biomass and serving as an important food source for fish, crustaceans, and water fowl.

The study utilizes a novel approach to characterize salinity patterns, focusing on those which may limit Rangia cuneata distribution in Texas estuaries.  This new approach to describe salinity patterns integrates salinity magnitude (e.g. 2-10 parts per thousand), duration of occurence (e.g. 30 days or longer), and periodicity of re-occurrence (e.g. re-occurring at least once per five years).

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Sprayed Away: Seven Ways to Reduce Texas’ Outdoor Water Use

July 2010

One of the most critical issues facing Texas now and in the future is how we use water. The ways in which we approach water have enormous implications for our environment, our pocket books, and the quality of our lives. We can only grapple with this issue successfully if we have a clear idea of how much water we use, how we use it, and how we might become more efficient in using it. One major area of water use in Texas is outdoor landscape watering, which is especially significant in the summer. This report reviews the outdoor water use in 18 Texas cities in recent years to better understand outdoor water use in our state and to examine how we might become more efficient in that use.

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