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American Rescue Plan Act Presents Historic Opportunity for Texas to Invest in Its Fragile Water Infrastructure

Texas lawmakers have a unique opportunity to address the state’s fragile water infrastructure with the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) explicitly authorizing the use of federal funds to make needed investments in water and sewer infrastructure. A broad coalition of rural, conservation, and equity-focused organizations today released a set of proposed guidelines to help Governor Abbott and the Texas Legislature take full advantage of ARPA funding for water infrastructure purposes. “Texas’ water infrastructure needs significant investment,” said Amanda Fuller, director of the National Wildlife Federation’s Texas Coast and Water Program. “A single winter storm knocked out water service for more than half of all Texans. ARPA funds should be welcome news in this regard....

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New report: PACE financing can help scale water reuse projects in Texas

Water reuse projects are a proven solution to the state’s water availability challenges, but many more could be built if developers took greater advantage of a statewide financing program for water and energy conservation improvements known as PACE (Property Assessed Clean Energy). So concludes a new report by the National Wildlife Federation and Texas Water Trade highlighting the vast potential – as well as the challenges – of using PACE to finance the upfront capital costs of water reuse, including development of onsite infrastructure for capturing and reusing non-potable water such as rainwater and air conditioner condensate as well as connecting and reusing a utilities’ recycled wastewater (known as purple pipe infrastructure). “Increasing the development...

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New film captures Houstonians’ memories of water outages during winter storm Uri

Uri precipitated by far the largest and longest interruption in public water supply in modern Texas history. Six months later we asked Houstonians about their time without water. The result is a short film that captures a few glimpses of a difficult time that reminded all of us of the under-appreciated daily value of water: https://vimeo.com/595637106 Want to hear more stories from Uri? Check out the extended version of the film: https://vimeo.com/595634078 What can Texas lawmakers do in response to our water infrastructure failures during Uri? Check out our list of recommendations. ...

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Water Utilities Are Helping Each Other Prepare for Climate Change

As part of our effort to help water utilities build resilience in the face of increasing climate and population pressures, the Texas Living Waters Project is featuring the Water Utility Climate Alliance (WUCA) this September. WUCA is comprised of the nation’s largest water utilities working together to provide leadership and collaboration on climate change issues affecting the country's water agencies. These utilities have hands on experience planning for and managing water supplies in the face of a changing climate. Heather Dalrymple, climate consultant for WUCA-member Austin Water, discusses below the alliance's new guide for utilities to integrate climate adaptation into planning efforts.   Record droughts, floods, heatwaves, and fires have grabbed headlines across the country...

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What the ‘Code-Red’ Climate Report Means for Texas

The 2021 IPCC report released this week has a clear message: just as smoking causes cancer, greenhouse gas emissions are creating a ‘code red for humanity.’ Most discussions of the report so far have rightly focused on its clarification of the global picture. But what exactly does the report mean for Texas? Synthesizing IPCC data for the Central North America region, Dr. Arsum Pathak, Adaptation and Coastal Resilience Specialist for the National Wildlife Federation, has identified the following preliminary key takeaways for the Lone Star state: Texas Will Get Hotter Under all future scenarios laid out by the report, there will be an increase in both the intensity and frequency of extreme heat events for the region....

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As Record Demand and Heat-Waves Loom, Texans Must Stop Over-Irrigating

Two times per week is more than enough for North Texas lawns As Texas emerges from a winter of deep-frozen quarantine and our western neighbors descend into a cauldron of drought and heat, the prospect of a green lawn outside our window feels unusually comforting. Before you greet the July sun with a full blast of irrigation, however, it’s worth remembering healthy lawns don’t need nearly as much water as you think. In a year and era of truly wicked problems, watering wisely is a remarkably simple way for North Texas to address our deepening water crisis. Irrigating no more than twice per week is not only more than enough to keep lawns...

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4 Ways Climate Change is Impacting Key Species in Texas Estuaries—and 4 Ways to Combat It

You haven’t truly seen a whooping crane until you’ve wandered onto the wetlands where they winter. The horizon is just a bit bigger there. Salt-marshes and ribbons of water unfurl endlessly in front of you, breathing easy behind the comfort of a seemingly impregnable line of barrier islands in the distance. This—the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge on the Mid-Coast of Texas—is the only winter home of the only wild flock of whooping cranes on the continent. Perhaps it’s no accident the flock chose Texas. Everything about the crane is larger-than-life and stubbornly unique. Its elongated legs and neck make it the tallest bird in North America; it tops its bright white torso with a...

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10 Texas Climate Bills to Watch on Earth Day

Texas, as the saying goes, has four seasons: drought, flood, blizzard, and twister. This old quip has hit a bit too close to home for Texans this year. We are less than two months removed from a devastating polar vortex that could yet prove to be the costliest disaster in state history. Weeks after enduring some of the coldest temperatures on record, Texans were greeted by an unusually early spring with temperatures creeping close to 100 degrees Farenheit across the state. Meanwhile, despite recent heavy rain almost all of Texas remains in a state of abnormal dryness or drought. And lest we forget, the weather whiplash of early 2021 comes straight on the...

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Lingering Aftermath of Winter Storm Uri Exposes Vulnerability of Texas’ Aging Water Infrastructure

With ​38 public water systems in 31 Texas counties​ still issuing boil water notices three weeks after the onset of Winter Storm Uri, Texas Living Waters and partner organizations released a series of ​policy recommendations for addressing the state’s water infrastructure crisis. “The Texas freeze didn’t just expose an electricity problem in our state, it also showed why we need to better protect Texans’ access to clean drinking water,” said Amanda Fuller, Texas Coast and Water Program director at the National Wildlife Federation. “Many of the issues still afflicting Texans after the storm are a direct result of aging water infrastructure. Texas lawmakers should heed these recommendations and take the steps necessary to ensure...

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New ‘The Gulf Between’ Podcast Highlights Water Inequity in Texas

https://open.spotify.com/show/3wC3P3dwqw2T5E24ddndtR A new podcast released today highlights the increasingly visible issue of water inequity in Texas and the people leading the fight to overcome it. The state’s water woes have been in the spotlight this month with Winter Storm Uri leaving millions of Texans without water and millions more under a week-long boil-water notice. The new series, entitled The Gulf Between, is produced by the Texas Living Waters Project and explores the intersection of racial, social, and environmental issues within the world of Texas water. “Climate-fueled extreme weather events and the pandemic are magnifying long-running patterns of inequity in Texas,” said Amanda Fuller, who leads the Texas Living Waters Project as the director of the...

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