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The prized and productive wetlands, bays, and estuaries of the Texas Mid-Coast require decisive policy interventions to defend against multiple climate-related threats, according to this analysis from the National Wildlife Federation’s Texas Coast and Water Program.

While the study indicates the coast is changing at an accelerating pace, the authors emphasize end-of-century projections are non-static and adaptive solutions such as ecosystem-based investments this decade could help combat emerging threats and build resilience across the region.

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This annotated bibliography synthesizes recent studies and reports on the performance of natural and nature-based infrastructure. These resources can be used to inform the Regional Flood Planning Groups on natural infrastructure techniques as they develop flood management evaluations (FMEs), flood management projects (FMPs), and flood management strategies (FMSs).

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With hurricane seasons intensifying and built development proliferating, natural infrastructure represents a critical avenue for the Houston-area to both protect itself from future flooding and ensure livable green spaces for its communities.

This report provides an overview of natural infrastructure and associated terms. It outlines the benefits of this approach and highlights seven existing natural infrastructure projects in Houston. It also provides details on a number of proposed projects still open to funding.

The report was developed in collaboration with Bayou City Waterkeeper, Bayou Land Conservancy, Bayou Preservation Association, Buffalo Bayou Partnership, Galveston Bay Foundation, Houston Advanced Research Center, Katy Prairie Conservancy, and the National Wildlife Federation.

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The polar vortex that descended on Texas from February 13 to 17, 2021 exposed not only the state’s ill-prepared electric grid, but also our aging, inadequate water infrastructure. As the Texas Legislature, state agencies, and local communities examine and address the failures that led to widespread suffering, loss of life, and economic harm during this winter storm and its aftermath, we urge decision-makers to consider how we might approach our water infrastructure differently as well.

We offer the following high-level policy recommendations to help ensure that all Texans have reliable access to safe drinking water, that their wastewater is properly treated, that the systems providing these essential services can quickly recover from shocks and stresses, and that our water utilities are equipped to adapt and grow from disruptive events.

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The Texas Coast and Water Program at the National Wildlife Federation (a founding member of the Texas Living Waters Project) presents here its policy priorities for the 2021 Texas Legislative Session. The program calls on elected officials to promote water supply innovation, enable sustainable management of groundwater, invest in state parks, advance natural solutions to flooding, and protect river flows. We also emphasize the pressing need to address social disparities, such as access to broadband internet, in order to improve public participation in ongoing planning processes related to disaster mitigation and natural resources.

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This first-ever Texas Living Waters Annual Report introduces readers to our work over the course of a transformative 2020. Our team nearly doubled in size as we doubled-down on our commitment to climate resilience, urban water management, and water for wildlife. We invite you to take a dive into Becoming Resilient to see where we’ve been this year and where we plan to go.

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Landscape irrigation is estimated to be the single-largest component of municipal water use in Texas. Municipal water demand, in turn, is the second-largest category of water use in the state, second only to agriculture. Texas communities aiming to use water supplies efficiently, therefore, need to take a hard look at the lawn. For this reason and as part of a greater effort to enable a resilient water future for Texas, the Texas Living Waters Project has performed an analysis of how each water provider in North Texas is approaching outdoor water use. We ask if communities are limiting the number of days per week that customers can water their lawns or simply limiting the number of hours per day automatic irrigation systems can be operated? We then examine both how much water can be saved through outdoor irrigation management and how much water we need to save to meet the region’s future water needs.

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The One Water approach offers tremendous opportunities for improving how water is managed within communities. Using water efficiently and taking advantage of diverse, locally available water supplies are important goals. It is also important that the approach support communities in assessing how their water use affects the health of waterways, both upstream, where water is sourced, and downstream, where other communities and aquatic resources may be impacted.

This report presents a planning framework to assist communities in implementing the One Water approach in a way that optimizes water supplies to cities and keeps water flowing for the creeks, rivers, and bays that support healthy fish, wildlife, and their habitats.

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