Author Archives: jenmw70

Celebrate Earth Day! Join the conversation about Keeping Rivers Flowing

What makes our planet Earth what it is? Water, of course! Why not top off your Earth Day festivities by reserving your spot to participate in the conversation about how to Keep Rivers Flowing? Sign up now to join us from 2:00-3:00 pm CDT on April 30th for the first webinar installment in a FREE three-part series.

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“Keeping Rivers Flowing: Innovative Strategies to Protect and Restore Rivers” and the rest of the webinar series are designed to inform interested persons about strategies to ensure the future health of Texas’ rivers, bays and estuaries.

Drawing on practical experience from here in Texas and around the world, speakers will discuss innovative approaches for ensuring that rivers, bays and estuaries continue to receive the flow needed to protect water quality and support healthy fish and wildlife populations. Without affirmative strategies to protect flows, the natural heritage embodied in Texas’ rivers, bays and estuaries is at risk.

The first webinar will provide an international perspective from Brian Richter on the state of rivers and what is being done to protect and/or restore these vital resources. Texas water policy experts Myron Hess and Andy Sansom will highlight why this issue is important in Texas, what is at stake, and what types of approaches might be taken to keep Texas rivers flowing all the way to the coast.

Presenters:
Andy Sansom, The Meadows Center for Water and the Environment
Brian Richter, The Nature Conservancy
Myron Hess, National Wildlife Federation

Title: Keeping Rivers Flowing: Innovative Strategies to Protect and Restore Rivers
Date: Wednesday, April 30, 2014
Time: 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM CDT

Space is limited. Reserve your Webinar seat now!

After registering you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the Webinar.

System Requirements PC-based attendees Required: Windows® 8, 7, Vista, XP or 2003 Server
Mac®-based attendees Required: Mac OS® X 10.6 or newer
Mobile attendees Required: iPhone®, iPad®, Android™ phone or Android tablet

This webinar series is presented by the Sierra Club – Lone Star Chapter, National Wildlife Federation and the Meadows Center for Water and the Environment.

We look forward to you joining us and being a part of this important conversation.

Texas Water: Looking ahead to a Busy 2014

ImageWater has always been a big issue in Texas and we expect that 2014 will be no different.  The Lone Star Chapter has  taken a proactive interest in water policy development at both the local and state levels.  Our principle issue areas are: 1) advocating for sound science and policies that protect Texas’ rivers, bays and estuaries; 2) promoting water conservation and proactive drought response as responsible water supply strategies; and 3) advocating for sustainable groundwater management.  It should come as no surprise that 2014 will be a big year for water policy development and implementation.

Before we charge into 2014, it is worth a quick review of a couple of 2013’s big water issues.  This past summer marked the third year of a continuing statewide drought, which meant that Texas faced some difficult realities.  Our shortage of water forced users to evaluate their usage in relation to others, and we were reminded that water is a shared resource.  This was particularly true along the Colorado River where the Lower Colorado River Authority wrestled with how to address continued water supply shortage.  The Board voted to suspend water for the downstream rice farmers and threatened to cut off freshwater inflows into Matagorda Bay.   Luckily, because of some rain and a large public outcry, the latter crisis was averted.  We are not out of the woods yet and will continue to closely monitor this situation in 2014.

One of the biggest water policy issues of 2013 was the legislative passage of HB4, its accompanying water-supply funding bills and the subsequent successful statewide election on Proposition 6.  This constitutional amendment allowed for the transfer of $2 billion from the State’s Economic Stabilization (Rainy Day) Fund to the State Water Implementation Fund for Texas (SWIFT).  The money will be made available in low interest loans to support water projects identified in the State Water Plan.  In 2014, the Texas Water Development Board will develop rules that implement HB4.  They will hold stakeholder meetings across the state to get input on how the legislation should be implemented.  The Sierra Club is invested in the outcome of this rulemaking and plans to participate at all stages of the process to advocate for the best possible result for this important legislation.

As we enter 2014, the drought continues for much of the state and many important policy decisions are on the horizon.  Among these are the careful implementation of the Edwards Aquifer Habitat Conservation Plan, development of progressive 2016 Regional Water Plans, addressing environmental flows through SB3 stakeholder groups, and endangered species litigation, to name a few.  The Sierra Club works cooperatively with the National Wildlife Federation on the Texas Living Waters Project to advance our policy and management goals in Texas.  You can follow our work through this newsletter, by visiting our water project website at http://www.texaslivingwaters.org and by subscribing to our blog.

If you are interested in volunteering on water issues or want information on how to advocate for good local policies in your area please contact me at jennifer.walker@sierraclub.org.

Why Should I Care About The Cost Of Tap Water?

Lone Star Chapter Water Resources Coordinator Jennifer Walker was a guest blogger on the American Rivers Blog today.  Her post follows.

Do big finance and economics play a role in the cost of the water coming out of your tap and should you even care? The answer is yes!

Financial realities are just as important for your water provider as they are for every family in Texas. When financial planning goes awry you may not like the results.

American Rivers just released a new report that provides basic information on how water utilities finance and pay for the water, pipes, plants and electricity that are needed to deliver water to you, the customer. This guide enables water customers to understand the financial underpinnings of their water systems. Just as with our personal finance, there are long-term consequences for decisions made yesterday, today and tomorrow.

Water utilities use a variety of methods to generate revenue to provide water to their customers, this is generally money that we pay for up front or have to pay back in the long-term through debt repayment. There are many assumptions that a utility uses to determine how much water is needed to serve their customers, what kind of infrastructure and programs are necessary to get water to customers and how much revenue can be expected in the future to repay loans and to finance services. This report goes through these considerations and gives consumers the tools they need to ask relevant questions and advocate for the proper management of their water utility.

Understand The True Cost To Avoid Overbuilding – And Overpaying

Consider this example: A utility issues bonds to build a water treatment plant based on an expected growth pattern or per-person water use that never materializes. The bonds still have to be repaid and the financial burden is ultimately spread out among fewer customers who each have to pay more for the water treatment plant than was anticipated. If per person water use is lower than expected, revenues take a hit and the utility could be forced to raise the per unit costs for water to cover debt repayment. Customers lose and costs go up.

Informed customers and community advocates need to be aware of the possible implications of big infrastructure expenditures and ask the right questions to ensure that utilities and decision makers make the best decisions. Potentially unnecessary project like these can be averted with informed advocacy. The example could pertain to a new water supply, a wastewater treatment plant or any other big expenditure made by a utility.

Saving Water Saves Us All Money

The most cost-effective method to provide water to consumers is to use the water and infrastructure that is already available to a community. The concept is that through various strategies consumers reduce their per capita water use thereby making water available to be used for other purposes. These include serving a growing population, dedicating water to keep our rivers healthy or any other use that may be deemed necessary by a community.

The cost of providing water to consumers across the United States is increasing. Using less water saves customers money through reducing the amount of water they are billed for, but that is just one of the benefits of reducing individual water use. When we all save water the community wins through lower overall costs and the environment wins because less water is taken out of our rivers and aquifer to meet human needs. We have a finite supply of water and need to use it wisely so we can meet all our water needs.

The San Antonio Case Study: Many cities have been quite successful in reducing per-person water use. San Antonio, TX has had tremendous population growth over that past 30 years, but they are still using the same amount of water to serve their customers as they did 30 years ago. By investing heavily in efficiency programs to extend their water supply San Antonio has been able to defer purchases of more expensive water supplies and has even shut down a wastewater treatment plant that was no longer needed due to reduced water use.

Consumers Have A Powerful Voice!

Water rate and pricing structures are critically important to consumers and addressed in the report as well. It is imperative to preserve affordability while ensuring that water is priced effectively to cover utility costs and to send a price signal to high water users to reduce their water use.

Water supply, availability and affordability are some of the most important issues facing communities these days. It is incumbent upon consumers to understand the implications of choices made by in our local decision makers that can have lasting effects on our communities, environment, and pocket books. We must all be able to ask the right questions to promote both environmentally and fiscally sustainable water supply decisions.

– See more at: http://www.americanrivers.org/newsroom/blog/jodefey-20130709-why-care-about-cost-tap-water.html#sthash.mxjfHfCu.dpuf

Actions by the 83rd Texas Legislature to Advance Water Conservation, Curb Water Loss, & Respond to Drought Conditions

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Actions by the 83rd Texas Legislature in the Regular Session to Advance Water Conservation, Curb Water Loss, & Respond to Drought Conditions

The following is a review of actions taken by the 83rd Texas Legislature in the regular session to advance water conservation, curb water loss, and respond to drought conditions. It is not an exhaustive enumeration of all the water-related legislation that might be characterized at least in part as fostering these objectives. For example, it does not discuss all of the water funding legislation passed by the Legislature. The Governor has signed HB 4 and SB 654 but has not acted on the other items as this afternoon (5/28/2013).

Appropriations (SB 1)

The Texas Legislature retained current funding and staffing levels for the Texas Water Development Board’s base Water Conservation Education & Assistance activities (Strategy A.3.1. in the TWDB appropriations) – $1,380,848 each fiscal year – and added the following new funding:

  • $1 million out of General Revenue for FY 2014 for grants to water conservation education groups to be awarded by a competitive process that may require private matching funds
  • $1.8 million for FY 2014 and $1.8 million for FY 2015 out of the Agricultural Water Conservation Fund for the Texas Alliance for Water Conservation Demonstration Project, a partnership project in the Texas Panhandle to enhance agricultural water efficiency to extend the life of the Ogallala Aquifer
  • $1.5 million for FY 2014 and $1.5 million for FY 2015 from General Revenue to be used for grants to groundwater conservation districts for agricultural water conservation (grants will go only to districts which require metering of water use and may only be used to offset half the cost of each meter)

The Texas Legislature provided $407,414 for FY 2014 and $326,474 for FY 2015 from General Revenue to the TWDB as part of its appropriations for Water Resources Planning (Strategy A.2.2) to develop an online tool to consolidate reporting requirements related to the water use survey, annual water loss report, and annual water conservation report and make those reports viewable by the public online.

Legislation – The Texas Legislature passed the following bills and sent them to the Governor:

HB 4 (Ritter, et. al./Fraser) – among its extensive provisions for establishing a new fund for implementation of the state water plan and for restructuring the Texas Water Development Board, HB 4 does the following:

  • Requires the TWDB to undertake to apply not less than 20% of the money disbursed in each five-year period  to support projects, including agricultural irrigation projects, that are designed for water conservation or reuse
  • Requires the TWDB to undertake to apply not less than 10% of the money disbursed in each five-year period to support projects for rural political subdivisions or agricultural water conservation
  • Prohibits the use of state financial assistance for a water project if the applicant has failed to submit or implement a water conservation plan
  • Requires regional water planning groups in their prioritization of projects for state financial assistance to consider at a minimum such factors as the feasibility, viability, sustainability, and cost-effectiveness of a project – factors which should work in favor of conservation projects
  • Requires TWDB in its process for prioritization of projects to receive state financial assistance to consider (among other criteria) the demonstrated or projected effect of the project on water conservation, including preventing the loss of water (taking into consideration whether the applicant has filed a water audit that demonstrates the applicant is accountable with regard to reducing water loss and increasing efficiency in the distribution of water)

HB 857 (Lucio III/Hegar) – requires each retail public water utility with more than 3300 connections to conduct a water audit annually to determine its water loss and to submit that audit to the TWDB [a retail public water utility with 3300 or less connections will continue to be required to conduct and submit a water audit once every five years computing the utility’s system water loss during the preceding year] – the initial annual water audit must be submitted by May 1, 2014

HB 1461 (Aycock/Fraser) – requires each retail public water utility required to file a water audit with the TWDB to notify each of the utility’s customers of the water loss reported in the water audit (TCEQ will adopt rules to implement this requirement, but the notice may be done through the utility’s annual consumer confidence report or on the next bill the customer receives after the water audit is filed)

HB 2615 (Johnson/Fraser) – increases the penalty for failure of a water rights holder to submit an annual water use report to TCEQ [in part because the penalties previously were so low, only about 60% of water rights holders outside watermaster areas reported their annual water use by the deadline] and requires TCEQ to establish a process for submitting these reports electronically through the internet

HB 2781 (Fletcher/Campbell) – makes a number of changes in current law governing the use and oversight of rainwater harvesting systems; for example HB 2781 does the following:

  • Requires a privately owned rainwater harvesting system with a capacity of more than 500 gallons that has an auxiliary water supply to have a specified mechanism for ensuring physical separation between the rainwater system and the auxiliary supply [to prevent any possible contamination]
  • Requires the permitting staff of each county and municipality with a population of 10,000 or more whose work relates directly to permits involving rainwater harvesting to receive appropriate training (provided by TWDB) regarding rainwater harvesting standards

HB 3604 (Burnam, Lucio III/Hegar) – requires an entity to implement its water conservation plan and its drought contingency plan, as applicable, when it is notified that the Governor has declared its respective county or counties as a disaster area based on drought conditions; clarifies the authority of TCEQ to enforce this requirement [previously the law only required the entity to implement either plan, despite the fact that water conservation should be an ongoing activity as contrasted to short-term responses to drought conditions; during the 2011 drought a number of entities in drought disaster areas reportedly did not implement mandatory water use restrictions]

HB 3605 (Burnam, et. al./Hegar) – does the following:

  • Requires a retail public water utility that receives financial assistance from TWDB to use a portion of that assistance – or any additional assistance provided by TWDB – to mitigate the utility’s system water loss if based on its water audit the water loss meets or exceeds a threshold to be established by TWDB rule
  • Requires TWDB in passing on an application for financial assistance from a retail public water utility serving 3300 or more connections to evaluate the utility’s water conservation plan for compliance with TWDB’s best management practices for water conservation and issue a report to the utility detailing the results of that evaluation
  • Requires TWDB not later than January 1 of each odd-numbered year to submit to the Legislature a written summary of the results of the evaluations noted above
  • Requires plans and specifications submitted to TWDB with an application for financial assistance to include a seal by a licensed engineer affirming that the plans and specifications are consistent with and conform to current industry design and construction standards

SB 198 (Watson/Dukes) – prevents a property owners’ association (HOA) from prohibiting or restricting a property owner from using drought-resistant landscaping or water-conserving natural turf but allows an HOA to require the property owner to submit a detailed description of a plan for the installation of such landscaping or turf for review and approval by the HOA to ensure to the extent practicable maximum aesthetic compatibility with other landscaping in the subdivision; the legislation also states that the HOA may not unreasonably deny or withhold approval of the plan or unreasonably determine that the proposed installation is aesthetically incompatible

SB 385 (Carona/Keffer) – authorizes a municipality or a county or a combination thereof to establish and implement a program to provide directly or through a third party financing for a permanent improvement to real property that is intended to decrease water or energy consumption or demand, with the repayment of the financing of a qualified project to be done through an assessment collected with property taxes on the assessed property; sets out the procedures, requirements, and options by which such a program may be established, implemented, and operated by the local government through contracts and other mechanisms

SB 654 (West/Anchia) – specifically grants to municipalities the authority to enforce through a civil action ordinances related to water conservation measures, including watering restrictions [although some municipalities have taken the position that they already had this authority, this legislation makes it clear that they do and gives municipalities more flexibility in enforcing water conservation ordinances since there may be a reluctance to use criminal law in this regard]

SB 700 (Hegar/Kacal, Raney) – does the following:

  • Requires the State Energy Conservation Office (SECO) to develop a template for state agencies and higher education institutions to use in preparing their respective comprehensive energy and water management plan (such a plan is already required)
  • Requires each agency and higher education institution to set percentage goals for reducing its use of water, electricity, gasoline, and natural gas and include those goals in its energy and water management plan
  • Requires that plan to be updated annually (currently updates are required biennially)
  • Requires SECO biennially to report to the Governor and the LBB the state and effectiveness of  management and conservation activities of the agencies and higher education institutions
  • Requires SECO to post that report on its website

This review was compiled by Ken Kramer, Water Resources Chair, Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club. For additional information: 512-626-4204 (cell) or kenwkramer@aol.com.

Legislative Update: Five Good, Five Troublesome Water Bills in the Last Few Days of the Texas State Legislative Session

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Updated Release: Tuesday, May 28, 2013:

For More Information:
Ken Kramer, Water Resources Chair, 512-626-4204 (cell)
Jennifer Walker, Water Resources Coordinator, 512-627-9931 (cell)

Update by Ken Kramer, Sierra Club Lone Star Chapter Water Resources Chair, on Five Good, Five Troublesome Water Bills as of Sine Die

“As the regular state legislative session concluded, much of the focus on water legislation was on funding the state’s water plan. The Sierra Club supported the final passage of HB 4 and SJR 1. We supported the allocation of $2 billion from the Rainy Day Fund to a new state water fund that was made in HB 1025, which will be effective upon passage of a state constitutional amendment.

“In addition to grappling with the water funding issue the Texas Legislature passed other significant legislation to advance water conservation and curb water loss by water utilities. Equally important the Legislature turned down many other bills that would have been problematic for managing and protecting our state’s existing water resources.

“In April we identified five good water bills and five problematic ones under consideration in the Legislature. Here is our update on those bills. Most of the good ones passed in one form or another, and most of the troublesome ones did not survived. Here is an update on the bills. Final action on the bills that passed rests with the Governor, who could veto a bill, sign a bill into law, or allow a bill to become law without his signature.”

Update on Five Good Water Bills Highlighted in April:

SB 198
(Watson/Dukes) – enables property owners in a homeowners association (HOA) to install drought resistant landscaping or water-conserving natural turf, subject to approval of a landscaping plan by the HOA – SB 198 passed both houses and has been sent to the Governor.

HB 857 (Lucio III/Ellis) – requires annual water audits by retail water utilities with more than 3300 connections to determine their water loss and submittal of those audits to the Texas Water Development Board – HB 857 passed both houses and has been sent to the Governor.

HB 3605 (Burnam/Hegar) – addresses water loss in retail water utilities through state financial assistance programs of the Texas Water Development Board – HB 3605 passed both houses and has been sent to the Governor.

SB 873 (Hegar) – would have clarified the authority of groundwater districts to require permits for the drilling or operation of water wells where the water is supplied for hydraulic fracturing for oil or gas –SB 873 was amended and passed the Senate but did not get a hearing in the House (some groundwater districts became concerned that the revised language actually undercut their authority); so the bill died.

SB 1169 (Hegar/Bonnen) – as initially filed, the bill called for strengthening the role of the state Water Conservation Advisory Council, requiring retail water utilities receiving state financial assistance to address water loss, and requiring implementation of drought contingency plans when a drought emergency is declared – SB 1169 passed the Senate and was favorably reported from the House Natural Resources Committee in its original form; however, the bill was significantly altered on the House floor. House Members adopted amendments that would require the state Water Conservation Advisory Council be reviewed by the Sunset Commission for the first time in 2015; removed all other provisions of the original bill, added revised language from another House bill to create the Brazos River Water Master Program, and added a water use reporting requirement for electric generating facilities. The Senate never acted to concur with House amendments nor did it request a conference committee with the House, so the bill died.

Update on Five Troublesome Water Bills Highlighted in April:

HB 824 (Callegari/Hegar) – would have eliminated the requirement that all sewer overflows be reported to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) within 24 hours (threshold for reporting would have been more than 1000 gallons; overflows below that level would have been exempted from reporting) – HB 824 was amended and passed the House but died in Senate Natural Resources Committee.

HB 1079 (Smith/Hancock) – limits the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and public review of uranium mining operations that might impact groundwater quality – HB 1079 was revised but there are still concerns about adequate review of production area authorizations; the bill passed both houses and has been sent to the Governor

HB 2334 (Callegari) – would have exempted the development of brackish water or marine water from certain state and/or groundwater district permitting or other regulatory requirements – HB 2334 was not considered on the House Floor but was amended onto HB 2578 by the House. The amended bill died in Senate Natural Resources Committee.

HB 3234 (Ritter/Fraser) – would have set unrealistic deadlines for the processing of water rights permits that could lead to inadequate review of permit applications and might interfere with the public’s opportunity to impact permitting decisions – HB 3234 was voted down in Senate Natural Resources Committee.

SB 1894 (Fraser) – would have prevented revision and possible strengthening of adopted state standards for instream flows and freshwater inflows to bays and estuaries until at least 2022 – SB 1894 was withdrawn from Senate Natural Resources Committee hearing agenda and never seen again.

Special Note on Other Good Water Bills:
In addition to the five good water bills highlighted in April, other bills have passed or are passing that will advance water conservation, proper water management, and/or public awareness of water – among those bills are (more details will be provided later): HB 1461 (Aycock/Fraser), HB 2615 (Johnson/Fraser), HB 2781 (Fletcher/ Campbell), HB 3604 (Burnam/(Hegar), SB 385 (Carona/Keffer), SB 654 (West/Anchia), and SB 700 (Hegar/Kacal).

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Business, Environmental & Homeowners Groups Urge Governor to Sign Bill to Allow Drought Tolerant & Water Conserving Landscaping

SB 198 Press Release LogosFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – May 20, 2013
Contact: David Foster, Clean Water Action – (512) 550-2402
Jennifer Walker, Sierra Club, Lone Star Chapter – (512) 627-9931
Susan Wright, Texas Community Association Advocates – (210) 827-1133
Stephanie Gibson, Texas Retailers Association – (512) 497-7071

 Business, Environmental & Homeowners Groups
Urge Governor to Sign Bill to Allow Drought Tolerant & Water Conserving Landscaping

The Texas House of Representatives approved legislation Monday that will ensure homeowners can install drought resistant and water conserving landscaping should they choose to do so. Authored by Senator Kirk Watson and Representative Dawnna Dukes, Senate Bill 198 has been sent to the Governor for his signature.

The bill garnered broad support from business groups like the Texas Association of Realtors, Texas Farm Bureau, and Texas Retailers Association, as well as from environmental organizations and the Texas Community Association Advocates, an advocacy group for property owners associations.

Many Texas property owners associations (POAs) – estimated to number around 25,000 — currently have rules in place that limit or ban drought-efficient landscapes. Senate Bill 198 is a compromise agreed to by many affected stakeholders that will still allow POAs to give prior approval to, and lay down guidelines for, revisions to a homeowner’s yard, as long as they do not unreasonably restrict or ban drought resistant landscaping or water conserving natural turf.

“We all understand that Texas needs to use our limited water resources more efficiently to meet the needs of our growing population and keep our economy going,” said Susan Wright, Chair-Elect of Texas Community Association Advocates. “And we know that saving water does not need to mean reducing your landscape to rocks and cacti. This bill allows homeowners to reduce their water use – and their bills – without compromising property values or aesthetics and without eliminating the review and approval process of the Association granted in many deed restrictions..”

“Texas faces an unprecedented water crisis, and we need to act now to promote water conservation and eliminate barriers to conservation where they exist,” said Jennifer Walker, Water Resources Coordinator for the Sierra Club, Lone Star Chapter. “Lawn watering can account for 60% or more of a typical homeowner’s overall water usage. Every Texan who chooses to do their part to reduce water use should be allowed to do so. Water efficient landscapes offer an easy way to conserve.”

“Texas retailers commend the legislature for recognizing the importance of homeowner’s rights while protecting our environment and precious water resource through the allowance of natural drought tolerant landscape,” said Stephanie Gibson, Governmental Affairs Consultant for Texas Retailers Association.

“The beauty of SB 198 is that it promotes water conservation without costing the taxpayer a single dime,” said David Foster, State Director for Clean Water Action. “And it won’t force homeowners to alter a single blade of grass if they don’t want to. It simply gives them the freedom to install a water-efficient landscape on their own property if they do want to. We urge Governor Perry to sign the bill at the earliest opportunity.”

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All Dried Up? Ways to Survive the Texas Drought

The Guadalupe River is Dry above Canyon Lake!

We’ve all heard that Texas is in the grips of a severe drought and that people and wildlife are having a hard time as a result.  While we can’t control the weather, there are things that we can do everyday in our homes and businesses to help conserve water and ensure there is enough for people and the environment during these dry times.

We have assembled some of our favorite tips below.  Every drop of water saved is important and with no end in sight for this drought, it is necessary.  It all comes down to using only what you need.

This list is by no means exhaustive. There are plenty more things that you can do to conserve water.  Find out what methods work for you and your family and go for it!

Top 10 Tips to Conserve Water:

  1. Only run the dishwasher or washing machine with a full load.  If it is time to replace either of these appliances, check in with your utility about rebates for water-conserving versions and purchase those instead.
  1. Water your lawn on the right day.  Are you odd or even?  Most Texas cities restrict outdoor water use to one or two days a week during times of drought. Save water and avoid fines by learning and following your city’s schedule.
  1. Catch the condensation from your AC unit and use it in your yard.  Depending on how your air conditioner is programmed, it can produce gallons of water per day.  Catch that water in a bucket and put it on your garden, shrubs and trees.
  1. Turn the water off when you brush your teeth. This simple step can save up to 8 gallons of water per day.
  1. Fix leaky faucets.  Leaky faucets can waste up to 7 gallons of water per day.  To check for leaks at home, read your water meter and avoid using water for 2 hours.  Read the meter again after this period.  If the amount is different you have a leak.
  1. Fix running toilets.  Running toilets can waste a lot of water.  Fix these leaks as soon as you find them.  Check with the manufacturer of your toilet for the proper replacement “flapper” to ensure maximum efficiency.
  1. Inspect your irrigation system. Have your system inspected by your water utility or a certified irrigator to make sure it is operating correctly, identify any problems and help you set it to run more efficiently.  Many cities offer free inspections.
  1. Install faucet aerators and low-flow showerheads.  These water saving devices are cheap and easy to install.  Many utilities give them away to their customers.  Check with your utility and pick up a few extras to share with your neighbors!
  1. Install a high efficiency toilet. Toilets account for about 25% of water used in the home.  Depending on the age of your toilet, you can save up to 5 gallons per flush by replacing older models.  Check with your city for possible rebates.
  1. Make water conservation a whole-family activity.  Challenge your family members to think of new ways to save water and to be part of the solution

Want to learn more about water conservation?

Want to learn more about the drought? 

Posted by: Jennifer Walker, Water Resources Specialist, Lone Star Chapter Sierra Club