The three groups that use the most water in Texas

Many different Texas groups rely heavily on water: in addition to the municipal, agricultural, manufacturing, outdoors recreation, mining and power-generating industries that depend upon it, Texas’ rivers, estuaries and wildlife cannot thrive without sufficient flowing water.

While Texas’ varied water needs are immense, it is possible for all of these industries to access the water they need, while still leaving enough water in our rivers to sustain our state’s current and future needs. This can be achieved through the widespread adoption of water conservation measures.

As defined by the State of Texas in the State Water Plan, the top three major water user categories in Texas are municipal, agricultural, and industrial user groups. By implementing water conservation measures, these three groups can change the future for our state’s water for the better by reducing water use and setting an example for the rest of Texas.

Trinity River in Fort Worth
Photo courtesy of Mel Rick, flickr

Municipal Water Use: Municipalities use roughly one-quarter of Texas’ water supply. This category is expected to increase dramatically over the coming decades as population increases.

Several cities around the country and in Texas have dramatically reduced per-person rates of water use and have generally found that water conservation is the most cost-effective option. While more cities are recognizing the benefits of strong water efficiency programs, the potential for water conservation remains largely untapped.

Texas Living Waters has developed several recommendations for municipal water providers to adopt water conservation measures, including implementing fair water rate structures and establishing retrofit programs.

Cotton Farming in Texas
Photo courtesy of David Nance, USDA

Agricultural Water Use: Irrigated agriculture is the biggest user of water in Texas.

There is enormous potential for savings in the agricultural arena through new technologies such as precision application for sprinkler systems, laser leveling of fields, which can increase irrigation efficiency, and automated water delivery control systems. These technologies promise significant water savings, but the cost can be prohibitive for many farmers unless grants and other incentives are provided by the State.

For more information on agricultural water conservation, visit the Texas Water Development Board website.

Galveston Bay Industry
Photo courtesy of Earl Nottingham, TPWD

Industrial Water Use: Manufacturing uses roughly 10% of Texas’ available water supply.

While each industry and industrial process is unique, there is potential for increased water efficiency. In one widely publicized example, Texas Instruments built a state-of-the-art new silicon wafer fabrication facility in Dallas that was projected to use roughly one-third less water than the company’s older plant.

Regardless of the processes involved, water conservation among most industrial users could be increased by developing and implementing a “Best Management Practices” program, which incorporates the most up-to-date water conservation measures for each industry. For more information on these practices, visit the Alliance for Water Efficiency’s Resource Library.