Best Bets for Texas Water

Water conservation

Conserving water means using the water we already have more wisely.

Other ways of thinking about water conservation include using water more efficiently, doing the same activities with less water, or reducing our water demands. Education is an important part of water conservation; people need to be given tools and knowledge to make water-wise decisions.

What does water conservation look like in action?
North Fort Bend Water Authority found that by reducing water demands by 15 percent, it can eliminate $400 million in future infrastructure costs. Their water conservation strategy includes financial incentives for residents to repair leaky irrigation systems, alerting high-water users of their water use levels, tiered water rates, rain barrel rebates, conservation education, and more.
The San Antonio Water System has a robust water conservation program and has especially emphasized education in its conservation approach. Some of the different ways they use education to increase residential conservation include water conservation lesson plans, a native landscaping program and consultations for high-end water users.
In your own home, water conservation can include using WaterMyYard.org to find out how much water your lawn really needs (a helpful tool because many homeowners over water their lawns without realizing it). Some cities offer free or low-cost rain barrels, which you may be able to take advantage of as well.
Common water conservation examples
Installing water-efficient technology
  • In industry: Using air-cooled equipment instead of water-cooled equipment when possible, or redesigning manufacturing or refining processes to use less water.
  • In communities: Installing metering technology that monitors water use so that excessive use and leaks can be quickly identified.
  • In businesses: Investing in technologies that use both energy and water more efficiently, because using less energy saves water and vice versa.
  • In homes: Upgrading to water-efficient appliances, including washing machines, dishwashers, low-flow sink, toilet and shower fixtures, and drip irrigation systems outside the home.
Adopting water-wise policies
  • Incentivizing water-efficient appliances and landscaping practices that use native plants and less water.
  • Structuring water rates so that low water users pay less per gallon for their water.
  • Offering free leak repairs for low-income water customers.
Rethinking landscaping
  • Installing drought-tolerant native and adapted grasses and landscapes.
  • Limiting landscape irrigation to no more than twice per week (once is better), and refraining from watering during the heat of the day (when water is quickly lost to evaporation).
  • Converting small gardens or landscaped areas to drip irrigation, rather than sprinkler systems that don’t deliver water as efficiently.
Capturing rainwater
  • Installing rain barrels and cisterns to collect rainwater so that it can be used to water gardens, wash cars, top off swimming pools, flush toilets and more.
Water conservation report card
Environment
Relative to other strategies, this is as good as it gets – however, even a good strategy can be done poorly if it is not carefully implemented.

When Texas communities use less water, they don’t have to take as much away from the environment.

True costs
Relative to other strategies, this is as good as it gets – however, even a good strategy can be done poorly if it is not carefully implemented.

The cheapest water supply is the water you already have. Additionally, many water conservation strategies do not require expensive investments or maintenance costs.

Long-term viability
Relative to other strategies, this is as good as it gets – however, even a good strategy can be done poorly if it is not carefully implemented.

Reducing per-person water use allows communities to meet the needs of more people with the same amount of water (or less, which is important during drought years). Texas is growing rapidly, which means using water more efficiently is the most viable long-term strategy available.

Water conservation grade breakdown
Environmental impacts
Positive
  • Water conservation programs reduce the total amount of water a community uses, which frees up valuable fresh water that can stay in rivers, recharge aquifers and flow down into bays and the coast, giving wildlife across Texas a chance to survive and even thrive.
  • Communities that increase their water supplies by conserving water are less likely to need water supply projects that are environmentally destructive.
Negative
  • None.
Whatever you can do to conserve [water] matters. It does. And we use a lot more than we need.
True costs

1 Water conservation is the most cost-effective water supply strategy available. It involves getting more benefit out of the same amount of water that has already been treated and transported at very high cost.

2 There are some costs associated with implementing water conservation strategies and programs, with the cost-efficiency of specific measures varying between different communities and industries. These are more than made up for by the costs that water conservation allows communities and industries to avoid, such as acquiring expensive new water supplies.

Long-term viability

1 Water is a finite resource; this means using less of it is the single-most reliable strategy available to us. Finding ways to reduce water demand is especially important as populations grow and weather patterns become more unpredictable.

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