Top Three Water User Categories in Texas

Sufficient flowing water is critical to keeping Texas rivers and estuaries healthy; sustaining fish, birds and other wildlife; and ensuring the vitality of Texas’ wildlife-dependent industries. In addition to this critical water “user group,” water is used for a variety of different purposes in Texas, including municipal, irrigation, livestock, manufacturing, mining, and steam-electric power generation. Large-scale reductions in water use by these user groups are possible through the application of water conservation measures, which could potentially allow more water to remain flowing in our rivers and into our estuaries.

As defined by the State of Texas in the State Water Plan, the top three major water user categories in Texas are municipal, agricultural, and industrial user groups.

Municipal Water Use: Municipalities use roughly one-quarter of Texas’ water supply. This category is expected to increase dramatically over the coming decades as population increases. Several cities around the country and in Texas have dramatically reduced per person rates of water use and generally found that water conservation is the most cost-effective option. While more cities are recognizing the benefits of strong water efficiency programs, the potential for water conservation remains largely untapped.

Trinity River in Fort Worth Photo courtesy of Mel Rick, flickr

Trinity River in Fort Worth
Photo courtesy of Mel Rick, flickr

Agricultural Water Use: Irrigated agriculture is the biggest user of water in Texas. There is enormous potential for savings in the agricultural arena through new technologies such as precision application for sprinkler systems, laser leveling of fields, which can increase irrigation efficiency, and automated water delivery control systems. These technologies promise significant water savings but the cost can be prohibitive for many farmers unless grants and other incentives are provided by the State. For more information on agricultural water conservation, visit the Texas Water Development Board website.

Cotton Farming in Texas Photo courtesy of David Nance, USDA

Cotton Farming in Texas
Photo courtesy of David Nance, USDA

Industrial Water Use: Manufacturing uses roughly 10% of Texas’ available water supply. While each industry and industrial process is unique, there is potential for increased water efficiency. In one widely publicized example, Texas Instruments built a state-of-the-art new silicon wafer fabrication facility in Dallas that was projected to use roughly one-third less water than the company’s older plant. Regardless of the processes involved, water conservation among most industrial users could be increased by developing and implementing a “Best Management Practices” program, which incorporates the most up-to-date water conservation measures for each industry. For more information on these practices, visit the Alliance for Water Efficiency’s Resource Library.

Galveston Bay Industry Photo courtesy of Earl Nottingham, TPWD

Galveston Bay Industry
Photo courtesy of Earl Nottingham, TPWD

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.

Useful Links and Resources

Useful links to additional information on water conservation.

Water Conservation Works

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.