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Author: Jennifer Walker

Want a climate change-ready garden? Look west.

Most longtime Texas gardeners do not need to be convinced about the reality of climate change – we have seen it in our own backyards. Here in Central Texas, many tropical plants which once had to be kept in pots and dragged into greenhouses to survive our winters, are now doing just fine outside year-round. Exotic vines and cold-tender citrus trees are now common sights in many area gardens. Responding to this new reality, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has revised its planting zone map to reflect the rising temperatures. As if Texas wasn’t hot enough already, according to a study conducted by renowned Texas Tech climatologist, Katharine Hayhoe, Texas’ annual average temperatures are projected...

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Top things to know about using PACE Financing for water-efficiency projects

Here at the Texas Livings Waters Project, we focus on the efficient use of water in our communities so that there is enough water in our creeks, rivers, and lakes for both people and the environment. We look for water savings everywhere. That’s why when there are new opportunities for major savings, we take every chance we get to spread the word! As PACE is a newer funding mechanism, we are eager to engage more and more Industrial, Commercial, and Institutional (ICI) water users in ways that they can fund their water efficiency projects. Lately we’ve been having some great discussions with ICI professionals about the Property Accessed Clean Energy (PACE) program, which finances energy-...

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Are off-channel reservoirs the environmentally-friendly water storage solution we’ve been searching for?

Many of us have fond memories of spending time swimming, boating and fishing in Texas’ lakes. From Lake Livingston in East Texas, to Lake Travis in the Hill Country or Lake Granbury in North Texas, these lakes are important destinations for countless families. But while so many of us remember the impact these “lakes” have had on our lives, many of us may not  realize that these “lakes” are actually man-made water supply reservoirs. Wheeler Branch Lake Reservoir. Photo courtesy of Carla Borghesi Clark On-Channel or Off-Channel Reservoirs: What’s the difference? There are a total of 196 “major” reservoirs (major meaning it can hold more than 5,000 acre-feet of water) across the...

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Is your water utility taking steps to conserve our most precious resource?

While there are numerous ways to manage water in Texas, conservation is one of the cheapest and most environmentally beneficial strategies that can be used. More and more utilities are understanding these benefits and are implementing water conservation strategies in their communities. A new way to finance water conservation projects is the State Water Implementation Fund for Texas (SWIFT), a water infrastructure financing program made available through the Texas Water Development Board. One of the great aspects of SWIFT is that 20 percent of funds are set aside for water conservation and reuse projects. The Sierra Club and their partners in the Texas Living Waters project successfully advocated for this set-aside for water conservation...

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Getting desalination right in Texas

By Tom Spencer and Myron Hess The intense drought that had Texas in its grip from 2010 – 2015 still haunts the state – reservoirs shrank to alarming levels, homeowners struggled to keep their landscapes alive, wild fires raged, and agricultural losses ran into the billions of dollars. Against this backdrop, the idea of desalinating water from the Gulf of Mexico to create a drought-proof supply for use in homes, farms, and factories has great appeal. In response to two pieces of legislation passed in 2015, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) proposed rules earlier this year to streamline the authorization process for desalination facilities to make water withdrawals and discharges along the Gulf....

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