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.Download PDF
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.
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.Download PDF
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.Download PDF
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.Download PDF
Ensuring One Water Delivers for Healthy Waterways: A Framework for Incorporating Healthy Waterways into One Water Plans and Projects
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.Download PDF
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.Download PDF
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.Download PDF