In the News

Calvin Finch: Save water and reduce your water bills

San Antonio Express News, October 21, 2016

If you want to reduce your water bill or are just interested in reducing water use as long as it won’t hurt the landscape, consider the following suggestions.

Change your irrigation control from automatic to manual. Especially this time of the year, with its cooler temperatures and shorter days, lawns do not grow as much and only need water every two or three weeks. If you only water when the lawn is dry, an infestation of brown patch fungus is less likely.

Once or twice per year (and whenever you discover a leak) have your irrigation contractor inspect your irrigation system to find and repair leaks and to adjust sprinkler heads to ensure they are covering the lawn evenly.

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Taking the long view on water conservation in Texas

Trib Talk, October 20, 2016

Utility customers in drought-afflicted areas in Texas have lately been faced with what appears, on the surface, to be a paradox: watching their water bills go up even as they use less.

The immediate math is simple. When utilities encourage conservation, customers use less water, which means less revenue for those utilities. But what few utilities and officials — not to mention increasingly frustrated headlines in Texas and across the country — point out is that in actuality, customers who conserve water are using less to pay less over time.

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Eco-activists seek LCRA water models. Suit aims to protect freshwater flow into the Gulf of Mexico.

Austin American Statesman, October 19, 2016

A Houston nonprofit sued the Lower Colorado River Authority on Wednesday to get copies of computer-based water models the utility uses.

The suit, filed by the Matagorda Bay Foundation in state district court in Austin, is the latest effort by coastal interests to protect the flow of freshwater into the Gulf of Mexico.

The foundation, headed by a prominent Texas environmental attorney, claims that the LCRA has withheld public information — specifically hydrologic models. Representing environmental and fishing interests, the foundation says in its suit that it wants to ensure that Colorado River water makes its way down to the Gulf.

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Denver starts South Platte River revival: water in works, focus on fish survival

Denver Post, September 1, 2016

Denver’s dreams of a South Platte River with plenty of water and healthy fish advanced this week as utility officials and state biologists unveiled details of a project to revitalize a 40-mile urban stretch.

The Denver Water and Colorado Parks and Wildlife officials said they’ve obtained 2,100 acre-feet of water that they will use strictly for environmental purposes. They plan to release the water at the Chatflield Reservoir choke poing — a supply equal to what 4,200 households typically use in a year.

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Paciorek and Stokes: Can Texas get desalination right?

July 15, 2016

Despite numerous logistical challenges, desalination of ocean water does hold real promise for Texas as a supplement to existing water supplies. The real issue is whether state rules for development of desalination plants will provide sufficient protections for our bays and coastal wildlife.

Sometimes it seems Galveston Bay can’t buy a break. During the 2010–2015 drought, the vital flow of fresh water from our rivers and bayous to our bay slowed to a trickle, imperiling commercial fisheries and wildlife as salinity levels rose. In recent months, we have seen the opposite. Historic floods have upset the balance of fresh and salty water that most bay creatures depend on, killing oysters with too much fresh water and washing tons of pollutants into the bay.

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Brush control no help for water supplies, lake sedimentation

Texas A&M Agrilife, July 13, 2016

COLLEGE STATION – Brush control has many benefits, including restoration of wildlife habitat and potentially improved livestock grazing, but water supply enhancement should not necessarily be considered one of them.

That’s the conclusion of a new Texas A&M AgriLife Research study published in Hydrology and Earth System Sciences, which looked at 85 years of data and investigated impacts of dramatic landscape change on rangeland water resources in Central Texas.

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Lawyers Say Ruling Bad For Landowners

Texas Tribune, June 4, 2016

Last week, agriculture and landowner groups heralded a Texas Supreme Court ruling favoring a South Plains ranch as a major win for private property rights, but some lawyers and conservationists are painting the decision as more of a win for developers and water marketers.

The unanimous ruling, issued last Friday, expanded a 45-year-old tenet of oil and gas law that enables “surface” landowners who don’t own the minerals beneath their property to force drillers to accommodate their existing use of the land. The 18-page ruling said the so-called “accommodation doctrine” — established by a 1971 state Supreme Court ruling — also should apply in cases in which landowners don’t own the groundwater under their property.

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What San Antonio should learn from Melbourne

San Antonio Express News, May 29, 2016

San Antonio just made it through one of the worst droughts in Texas history. Climate change means we’ll have more — unpredictably longer and more intense. Is San Antonio prepared? Nope. And the San Antonio Water System is leading us the wrong direction.

Express-News staff writer Brendan Gibbons’ recent front-page article about summer water consumption between 2011 and 2015 gives clues about why. Drought preparedness requires real conservation — ongoing commitment to keeping all the water we have, and guarding our aquifers and their recharge zones.

How well did San Antonians do?

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Report: Texas Must Increase Water Conservation Efforts

Texas Tribune, May 18, 2016

Most water utilities in Texas need to “substantially increase” their conservation efforts, according to a recent review of more than 300 city utilities by the Texas Living Waters Project, a consortium of environmental groups.

Among the state’s larger cities, Austin topped the list of those with strong conservation efforts claiming 90 points out of a possible 100. Kingsville ranked lowest, receiving just 10 points.

The Project’s Water Conservation Scorecard looked at how well utilities comply with state reporting requirements, whether they limit outdoor watering and how much water disappears from their distribution systems.

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A never-ending thirst: Exploring Tarrant County’s quest for water

Star Telegram, May 16, 2016

If nothing is done to develop new water sources in North Texas, projections suggest that we’ll face a shortfall of 456 billion gallons by 2070.

That’s enough water to nearly fill the equivalent of five Richland-Chambers lakes. Richland-Chambers, the state’s third largest reservoir, is owned by the Tarrant Regional Water District, which provides raw water to almost all of Tarrant County.

The sobering projection is part of the 2017 State Water Plan that is updated every five years and spells out the state’s water needs, by region, for the next 50 years.

The Texas Water Development Board is expected to vote on the 2017 State Water Plan at its meeting Thursday.

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