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Desalination is often viewed as a solution to many water supply problems and is often hailed as a ‘drought resistant’ supply. This report explores the environmental, energy, and economic issues surrounding desalination and provides an overview of desalination activities in Texas.

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By Dr. Norman Johns, National Wildlife Federation, Austin, Texas

The brackish water clam Atlantic Rangia cuneata (Rangia cuneata), is an important native species in the upper portion of most Texas estuaries. Rangia cuneata clams are of ecological significance because of their role as a filter feeder, converting detritus and phytoplankton into biomass and serving as an important food source for fish, crustaceans, and water fowl.

The study utilizes a novel approach to characterize salinity patterns, focusing on those which may limit Rangia cuneata distribution in Texas estuaries.  This new approach to describe salinity patterns integrates salinity magnitude (e.g. 2-10 parts per thousand), duration of occurence (e.g. 30 days or longer), and periodicity of re-occurrence (e.g. re-occurring at least once per five years).

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This report recommends seven common-sense water conservation measures. It reviews 19 cities around the state to see where these measures are in place and concludes that, with some exceptions, most of the cities surveyed are not doing enough to make the most efficient use of existing water supplies.

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This report is the first in a series designed to explore aspects of the energy‐water nexus in Texas. It examines the water requirements for various types of electricity generating facilities, both for typical systems nationwide and here in Texas. It also addresses the use of energy by water supply and wastewater treatment systems, comparing national averages with Texas‐specific values.

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Springs have played a major cultural, historical, ecological, and spiritual role in shaping Texas. Springs in the state are as varied and unique as the landscape, and are an important resource for all Texans. Many springs have disappeared and the quality, integrity, and existence of many more are threatened. The intent of this guide is to increase awareness of the importance of springs and to assist spring owners in taking steps to care for their springs.

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Among the potential impediments to achieving the full intent of the Texas Senate Bill 1 regional water planning process are conflicts of interest held by the planning consultants, primarily large engineering firms. The regional water planning process was designed as a much-publicized “bottom up” approach to serve diverse interest groups representing the citizenry of the region at large.

In order for the regional water planning groups to bring their own diverse interests to bear and design a comprehensive water plan addressing the array of requirements, a premium value is attached to the provision of objective, unbiased information to the group by their consultant.

There appear to be two principal types of conflicts of interest which can impede the delivery of such unbiased information. I label these a) the “big ticket payoff” conflict of interest, and b) the “favored client” conflict of interest. Both of these, combined with the perhaps unavoidable predisposition of engineers towards “structural solutions,” have generally led to regional water plans with a heavy emphasis on building new infrastructure, little emphasis on progressive management of existing supplies, including water efficiency measures, and incomplete attention to environmental and cost issues.

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Texas’ bays, or estuaries, are places where rivers flow into the Gulf of Mexico. The mix of salt and fresh water in these areas provides essential habitat for oysters, shrimp and many species of fish. Migrating birds such as ducks, geese and the endangered whooping crane also depend on the bays for food and shelter. Not only are Texas’ bays vital for wildlife, they also support a large segment of the coastal economy.

This report evaluates how full use of existing water permits could affect freshwater inflows to the Texas coast and gives five of the state’s seven major bays — Sabine Lake, Galveston Bay, Matagorda Bay, San Antonio Bay and Corpus Christi Bay — a “danger” ranking.

Download report summary here, or download full report below.

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The purpose of this book is to provide guidance for citizens who wish to become active on water issues in Texas. It demonstrates how to influence decisions regarding water policy planning in this state. It includes basic information on campaign organizing, water management and water protection resources steps on how to affect decisions concerning public water supplies, and inspiring examples of successful grassroots activism on water issues.

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