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.
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.
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.