What's next for Texas water?

Our recommendations for a thriving Texas future.

As you have seen, there are many different water supply strategies and approaches in our “toolbox.”

Some of these strategies make more sense than others when evaluated for cost, long-term viability and environmental impact. The reality is, Texas will need to depend on a mix of these different strategies. Sometimes, this could mean making tough decisions and using strategies that we wouldn’t otherwise recommend.

However, our hope is that if we understand the full range of impacts that our water management decisions can have, we will plan for the future in a way that prioritizes sustainable projects with multiple benefits, and puts aside more destructive and expensive projects as last resorts.

We owe our love of this state to its vastness and its diversity in customs, physical topography and climate zones. Because each region has its own unique water stories, opportunities and limitations, the “right” water management investments will look different for every community. In addition to planning for drought and water scarcity, some regions must also plan for flooding and storm-wrought destruction. Across the entire state, Texans must plan for how the weather extremes that accompany a changing planet will uniquely impact their community’s water future.

That said, we believe the following recommendations provide a reliable compass for mapping Texas’ water future:

01.

Reducing demand

Before anything else, communities must engage mightily in water conservation. Using less water is the only way to truly mitigate water scarcity.

02.

Collaborating

Texas communities must bring more stakeholders to the table to plan for their water future. Whether or not a community implements a One Water management approach, we can all benefit from thinking more comprehensively about how time-tested strategies like stormwater collection can be used alongside of innovations that utilize new developments, parks and community spaces to manage water more efficiently and effectively.

03.

Embracing innovation

Communities must be willing to think beyond traditional approaches to embrace and incentivize the adoption of newer, more innovative solutions. Nature-based approaches to development and land restoration have incredible benefits for communities, including preparing them to be more resilient when faced with both droughts and storms.

04.

Thinking big picture

Communities must remember that when the Texas environment suffers, so do we. Water supply strategies must be implemented responsibly, in a way that allows enough fresh water to flow into rivers and all the way to Texas bays.

05.

Planning for drought

Community drought management protocols typically kick in when water supplies drop to a certain level or water treatment facilities begin to reach capacity – but often, this ignores earlier signs of real drought. Instead of waiting for supplies to stretch thin, our communities should develop multi-faceted drought response plans that also consider whether the region is in a climatic drought. By doing so, communities can become more nimble and proactive in stretching water supplies in the face of drought.

06.

Diversifying

No strategy is sufficient or reliable on its own; Texas communities must stay flexible and resilient by investing in a diverse mix of strategies. By implementing a host of smaller-scale strategies, communities may even be able to avoid larger, more destructive water supply projects.

07.

Remaining diligent

Technology has been, and will continue to be, a boon for water conservation and supply. Still, as new technologies become available, communities must continue to fully evaluate strategies to ensure they are the right fit for them and the environment. Water utilities should invest in research and development and be willing to test and give feedback on new strategies.

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