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Houston after Harvey: From chaos to opportunity

Waiting for Hurricane Harvey to hit the Gulf Coast was like being on the Titanic – trapped and reduced to intense anticipation, all too aware that Houston would flood in a matter of hours. On Friday afternoon of Aug. 25, I was one of the many Houstonians who anxiously gathered our families together as Hurricane Harvey approached the Corpus Christi coast. We were defenseless to the oncoming deluge, waiting impatiently as news reports filled our homes with grim reports about Houston’s inability to cope with an event of this magnitude. When Harvey landed in the Rockport and Port Aransas region, the first symptoms of the storm clearly materialized in a matter of minutes. While there...

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How does the PACE program work?

Texas finds its PACE when it comes to water efficiency

Water and financial savings are adding up across Texas as more property owners and developers use PACE Financing for water-efficient upgrades inside and outside their buildings. The Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program has now financed six projects that are in the works in the Dallas, Central Texas and Houston areas. While the Simon Property Group is leading the way with five projects, more than any other group in Texas, Alterra International recently closed the largest PACE-financed project in Texas with their renovation and redevelopment of the Butler Brothers Building in downtown Dallas. The Simon Property Group PACE projects include the Barton Creek Square Mall in Austin, Lakeline Mall in Cedar Park, the Round...

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Drought conditions need to be taken into account for drought response plans

For proactive drought response, we need to stop ignoring actual drought

High temperatures and high pressure cells are returning to many parts of Texas, where they are projected to stay around for a while. As these weather conditions quash any chance of precipitation and usher in our typical triple-digit summer days, intensifying the evaporation from our lakes and rivers, we need to be ready for drought. Drought is an undeniable part of life in Texas and impacts many facets of life, including water supplies. Even though drought is no stranger to Texas, we still have work to do when it comes to proactively protecting our rivers and water supplies. If we want to be ready to conserve water and make it safely and efficiently through...

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Invader zebra mussels threaten our native Texas species

Zebra mussels, a species native to the Black and Caspian Seas, were first identified in Texas in 2009. Now, only eight years later, these mussels have spread over five different river basins and infested 11 Texas lakes: Belton, Bridgeport, Canyon, Dean Gilbert, Eagle Mountain, Lewisville, Randell, Ray Roberts, Stillhouse Hollow, Texoma, and Travis. As innocuous as these striped invaders may seem, their rapid expansion across Texas doesn’t just put a damper on boating – it puts our state’s native mussel species at risk. Map of invasive zebra mussel findings in Texas. Courtesy of TPWD Why do our native mussels matter? Texas is home to 53 of the 300 species of mussels...

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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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My Living Waters: Janice Bezanson’s niche in saying ‘no’ to reservoirs and ‘yes’ to wise water use

Little Cypress Reservoir. Waters Bluff Lake. Fastrill, Red River and Dimple reservoirs. There’s a reason you’ve likely never heard of these man-made lakes – they were never built. And the reason for that is, in large part, Janice Bezanson. Janice has made a name for herself in the world of Texas conservation through her work with Texas Conservation Alliance, which she now leads as its executive director. Her advocacy and community organizing prowess has been recognized by the National Wildlife Federation’s Charlie Shaw Conservation Partnership Award, and in 2012 she was one of 15 women leaders honored at the Bob Bolluck Museum’s Women Shaping Texas in the 20th Century exhibit. Perhaps most notably, the proof...

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Lazy ways to protect rivers and wildlife without breaking a sweat

We’re not saying you’re lazy. But how awesome would it be if you could protect our rivers, bays and water-loving critters in-between handfuls of popcorn and reaching for the controller to remind Netflix that yes, I am still watching, and so what? Hold on to those couch cushions, because it can really be that easy. How to help Guadalupe Bass from your couch 1. Let your inner river rat shine – a new river-themed license plate is right at your fingertips. Texas Parks & Wildlife Department has teamed up with TxDMV to offer snazzy new plates for your river-bound ride. Buy a plate with a leaping largemouth bass to help slow the spread of invasive zebra mussels,...

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Your guide to the 85th Texas Legislature’s water bills

Did you miss what happened with water conservation this legislative session? We’ve got you covered. In the recently concluded regular session marked by heated debates over bathroom rights and sanctuary cities, water was not a priority issue for the Texas Legislature. Still, numerous bills related to water management were introduced and considered. Among those were bills to advance water conservation. Although not all were able to make it through the legislative gauntlet, some did. The bills that passed are seen by conservation advocates as positive, if modest, steps forward. Key to the legislative guide. Water Conservation Advisory Council recommendations An important impetus to several of these bills was the December 2016 report to the...

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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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