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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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The Texas Living Waters Project is actively engaged in promoting investments in effective and equitable nature-based approaches to Houston-area flood mitigation. As part of this effort, we compiled and synthesized existing flood mitigation recommendations that have been made by Houston-based entities in recent years. While Houston has a full range of options to reduce future risks, we urge decision makers to invest in natural infrastructure and nonstructural flood mitigation measures that support or enable the use of natural systems and their multi-benefits. To that aim, we have identified 5 overarching strategies related to natural infrastructure and flood mitigation as high priorities for Houston:

  • Expand green infrastructure and promote resilient building design
  • Invest in habitat restoration to defend against flooding
  • Develop a strategic and coordinated buyout program
  • Prioritize conservation and sound land management
  • Deploy public education, awareness, and engagement campaigns

This document introduces each of these strategies with a brief description, a list of related recommendations put forth by local entities, relevant funding opportunities, and incentives to promote and expand its use.

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Amanda Fuller, Director of the Texas Coast and Water Program at the National Wildlife Federation, discusses the importance of incorporating natural infrastructure into area flood planning efforts. She highlights the multiple benefits of nature-based approaches and emphasized the importance of centering equity concerns in infrastructure planning.

The presentation was originally made to the Houston Galveston Area Council Flood Management Committee on July 15, 2020.

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The Texas Living Waters Project has released the 2020 Texas Water Conservation Scorecard, an in-depth analysis and ranking of the water conservation efforts of more than 300 water utilities in Texas. Taken in conjunction with the 2016 report, the 2020 Scorecard reveals many utilities are not taking serious actions to advance water conservation.

The Scorecard is an evaluation of utilities level of effort to advance water conservation rather than their performance in achieving conservation with the exception of two scoring criteria: their records on water loss and whether they met targets for reducing per-capita water use. Other scoring criteria evaluate a utility’s compliance with water conservation planning and reporting requirements, outdoor watering limits, and rate-based incentives for efficient use of water.

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Starting in 2020, Texas stakeholders will have the opportunity to determine the best flood mitigation strategies for their region through a process called “flood planning.” Regional Flood Planning Groups will lead this effort, as prescribed by Senate Bill 8 enacted by the Texas Legislature in 2019.

Participating in the regional flood planning process as a RFPG member is a momentous opportunity to serve Texas communities. As a RFPG member, designees will not only advocate for the flood protection needs of their region, but will also have an opportunity to amplify Texas as a national leader in flood mitigation, adaptation, and resilience.

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The Hill Country is no stranger to flooding. In 2015, the Memorial Day flood brought devastating rains to the region. As flood events grow stronger and more frequent, it is more important than ever to take advantage of opportunities to protect our citizens and natural heritage from these events.

Senate Bill 7, established by the Texas Legislature in 2019, created the Flood Infrastructure Fund (FIF). The FIF is an important step towards building a more resilient Texas. Last fall, Texas voters approved a constitutional amendment to allocate $793 million to the FIF for structural and nonstructural flood mitigation projects, to be administered by the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB).

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Since 2015, the Houston-Galveston region has experienced four “500-year” floods. In order to protect our citizens and continue to bring investment and innovation to the region, more must be done to protect lives and properties from flooding!

Senate Bill 7, established by the Texas Legislature in 2019, created the Flood Infrastructure Fund (FIF). The FIF is an important step towards building a more resilient Texas. Last fall, Texas voters approved a constitutional amendment to allocate $793 million to the FIF for structural and nonstructural flood mitigation projects, to be administered by the Texas Water Development Board.

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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 document shares preliminary findings from a survey that assesses whether the One Water approach is realizing its potential to meaningfully ensure healthy waterways. This report also shares findings on the current “state of practice” through a series of interviews with a cross-section of utility staff, planners, engineers, and scientists involved in One Water implementation.

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