Water Conservation Works

Managing and protecting our water resources is one of the most critical issues facing Texas today. The state’s population is expected to nearly double by 2060, putting more pressure on limited water supplies. At the same time, scientists warn that Texas will likely experience longer, more severe droughts more often in the future. The impact on the state’s already stressed rivers, aquifers and other natural resources could be dramatic. In many river systems, the state has issued more water rights than would be available during dry years, meaning rivers could be pumped dry, while many aquifers are being pumped faster than rainfall can replenish them.

Guadalupe River Above Canyon Lake, July 2011 Drought Photo courtesy of Jennifer Walker

Guadalupe River Above Canyon Lake, July 2011 Drought
Photo courtesy of Jennifer Walker

Given this emerging reality, Texas must manage its limited water supplies as efficiently as possible.  Increasing water use efficiency allows communities to do more with existing water supplies and postpone or even eliminate the need for expensive and environmentally damaging water supplies, such as reservoirs or long-distance pipelines. Using water wisely is the most economical and environmentally sound way to ensure water is available to meet all critical water needs – including water to support healthy Texas rivers and estuaries.

Saving Water Saves Money – An Economic Case for Conservation

Cities across the country have shown that water conservation is a cost-efficient way to meet increased water demands. Conserving water – consuming less to achieve a specific purpose, wasting less such as avoiding leaks, or reusing wastewater in appropriate circumstances –  reduces costs and postpones or eliminates the need for expensive and environmentally damaging new dams or similar water supply projects.

San Antonio Water Systems: San Antonio reported that spending an average of $1 per person on conservation programs saves $4-7 per person in water utility expenditures. The city’s $4.4 million conservation program in 2006 translated to approximately $308 per acre-feet saved. Comparatively, the cost of new surface water rights ranged from $400 to $1,500 per acre-foot and the cost to purchase additional groundwater rights in the Edwards aquifer was significantly higher. Read more about San Antonio and water conservation.

Lower Colorado River Authority: A 2009 planning effort by the Lower Colorado River Authority, which manages the water supply of the Lower Colorado River Basin, estimated that conservation programs would cost roughly $400 an acre-foot while the river authority’s options for new pipelines and reservoirs would cost roughly $2000 an acre-foot.

Read more about opportunities to save money by saving water through municipal water conservation.

Case Study: Water Conservation in San Antonio

Efforts to reduce water use in San Antonio over the past 3 decades have been tremendously successful. As a result, San Antonio is able to use the same quantity of water to serve many more people than it did over 30 years ago, despite the city’s tremendous growth in population over that period.

Conserving Water to Prepare for Drought

Ongoing water conservation programs are the single best way to set the stage for effective drought response at both the local and state level.

Get Involved

Learn how you can help at home, in your community and at the state level to ensure the most efficient use of our existing water supplies.

Municipal Water Conservation

Unfortunately, not all cities in Texas are pursuing conservation as aggressively as they could. To reduce local water use, we recommend that cities and local water utilities should adopt seven common-sense measures.

Reducing Outdoor Water Use

Outdoor water use, which mostly means lawn watering, represents one of the largest uses of water in urban areas. Texas cities should implement seven efficiency measures that have a proven track report to reduce this significant water use.

Role of State Government

The State of Texas must take a lead role in encouraging efficient use of limited water resources in communities throughout the state. The Texas Living Waters Project recommends a number of actions to help achieve improved local water conservation.

Top Three Water User Categories in Texas

Water is used for a variety of different purposes in Texas, including municipal, irrigation, livestock, manufacturing, mining, and steam-electric power generation. The top three major water user categories in Texas are municipal, agricultural, and industrial.

Useful Links and Resources

Useful links to additional information on water conservation.