Issue Papers and Publications

Creating ‘New’ Water Conference: Texas Water Policy Update

June 2005

This issue of the Texas Water Policy Update highlights the 5th Annual Statewide Water Conference entitled “Creating ‘New’ Water: Exploring the Options.” Abroad array of speakers and attendees explored the true “water creating” potential—including the challenges and limitations—of the more popular alternative water management strategies of land stewardship, desalination, rainwater harvesting, and conservation.

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Alternative Water Management Strategies for the 2006 South Central Texas Regional Water Plan

June 2005

The Edwards Aquifer is a sole-source aquifer for more than 1.3 million people in South Central Texas. If this resource is managed carefully, it can continue to provide drinking water to the area on a sustainable basis. The Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club believes that much of the identified water needs in Region L can be met through aggressive conservation and the use of aquifer storage and recovery. Several water resource alternatives are examined in this report that will potentially satisfy a large portion of water demands in both wet and dry years.

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A Powerful Thirst: Water Marketing in Texas

April 2005

This report discusses the various forms of water marketing, highlights a few current water marketing proposals and examines the gaps in Texas surface and groundwater law with regard to water marketing. Based on this analysis, we offer several recommendations for appropriate use of water markets to meet consumptive and environmental water needs without damaging rural communities and without undermining incentives for water conservation.

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Spotlight on Groundwater Conservation Districts in Texas

April 2005

As the number of groundwater districts in Texas continues to grow rapidly, it is essential that state policy makers and the public have objective information about how the districts are carrying out their various responsibilities. In September 2003, Environmental Defense reported on the issues and challenges facing many of the groundwater districts. During the following year and a half, the magnitude and difficulty of the issues and challenges increased in some parts of the state. At the same time, however, some groundwater districts become increasingly sophisticated about how to work with the best available science, how to set appropriate management goals and even how to cooperate across district lines. This report documents some specific recent developments in various groundwater districts across the state.

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Water Loss from Texas Water Suppliers

November 2004

In order to better understand the extent of water loss from water suppliers in Texas, the Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club undertook an effort in the summer of 2003 to research the various methodologies for defining, determining, and detecting water loss. Water-loss data from water supply systems around the state were also collected. The findings of this effort are presented in this report. This focus of this report is water loss within water utilities; it does not address water savings resulting from user-oriented conservation efforts. The Sierra Club hopes that the findings and recommendations resulting from this study will assist both decision-makers and the public in addressing water loss in water utilities as a way to meet our state’s water needs.

Link to Publication on the Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club Website

Bays in Peril: A Forecast for Freshwater Flows to Texas Estuaries

October 2004

Texas’ bays, or estuaries, are places where rivers flow into the Gulf of Mexico. The mix of salt and fresh water in these areas provides essential habitat for oysters, shrimp and many species of fish. Migrating birds such as ducks, geese and the endangered whooping crane also depend on the bays for food and shelter. Not only are Texas’ bays vital for wildlife, they also support a large segment of the coastal economy.

This report evaluates how full use of existing water permits could affect freshwater inflows to the Texas coast and gives five of the state’s seven major bays — Sabine Lake, Galveston Bay, Matagorda Bay, San Antonio Bay and Corpus Christi Bay — a “danger” ranking.

Download PDF of Report Summary     Download PDF of Full Report

Grassroots Organizing on Texas Water Issues

June 2004

The purpose of this book is to provide guidance for citizens who wish to become active on water issues in Texas. It demonstrates how to influence decisions regarding water policy planning in this state. It includes basic information on campaign organizing, water management and water protection resources steps on how to affect decisions concerning public water supplies, and inspiring examples of successful grassroots activism on water issues.

Link to Publication on the Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club Website

Making Every Drop Count: Water-saving tips for your yard or garden

April 2004

During summer months, Americans use twice as much water as they do during other times of the year. Watering lawns and gardens accounts for the vast majority of average household use. However, by combining conservation practices with efficient landscape design, homeowners can save natural resources, time, and money, and help to prevent our aquifers and rivers, which wildlife depend on for survival, from going dry due to over-pumping. This document provides simple tips for saving water outdoors.

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A Proposal for Environmental Flow Protection

April 2004

We need to act quickly while we still have amazing fish and wildlife resources and outdoor recreational opportunities that require protection, rather than restoration. Fortunately, a large percentage of surface water rights in Texas is currently unused, which accounts for much of the environmental flows available during drought conditions. This document offers recommendations for an effective approach to protecting environmental flows in Texas.

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