Tag Archives: drought

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Future of Water in Texas

prop6

Unless you have been living under a rock for the last several years, you probably have heard that Texas has been facing a severe water crisis. You don’t need to be an expert hydrologist to understand this; after all this is Texas, where sizzling temperatures and dry conditions have always been a part of living in the desert southwest.

Most of you will remember that 2011 was the driest year in Texas history; the state reportedly only averaged 14.88 inches of rainfall that year. However, this is not the first time the state has faced water crises of that magnitude. In 1917, Texas averaged only .11 inches higher than in 2011, making average rainfall for that year only 14.99 inches. These numbers indicate a continuous struggle that Texas has had with water preservation for several decades, so it’s time for Texans to take action on a better water plan for the state.

Earlier this year, the Texas State Legislature passed a resolution that will allow the state to use its Rainy Day Fund to finance $2 billion dollars’ worth of water projects across Texas (referred to as the State Water Implementations Fund or “SWIFT”). That measure will be put up to Texas voters as constitutional amendment (Proposition 6) for the November 5th election. This ballot measure will be Texas’ first attempt to finance a statewide, long-term plan for water supply and water conservation.

So if voters were to approve this effort, what would that mean for Texans? Here is some language, as taken from the Prop 6 official website:

“The constitutional amendment providing for the creations of the State Water Implementation Fund for Texas and the State Water Implementation Revenue Fund for Texas to assist in the financing of priority projects in the state water plan to ensure the availability of adequate water resources.”

Enabling legislation that becomes law if Prop 6 passes provides that:

  • Not less than 20% of the funds shall go to water conservation or reuse projects;
  • Not less than 10% of the funds shall go to water projects in rural areas, which may include agricultural water conservation projects;
  • Only projects called for in the regional and state water plans will be eligible for this funding, and those projects must be prioritized at the regional and state levels based on factors such as cost-effectiveness and the effect of the project on water conservation and prevention of water losses.

So on November 5, voters have the opportunity approve billions of dollars to craft a borrowing-and-lending system for water projects here in Texas. There does not appear to be a specific list of projects that will be given the green light assuming this plan passes, this amendment would simply allow voters to put state money into a fund for water supplies and water conservation.

How the money will be apportioned is still unknown,” said Ronald Kaiser to the Houston Chronicle, “people are putting all their faith in the water board.” Kaiser is Professor of Water Law and Policy at Texas A&M University.

The 2012 version of the State Water Plan highlights 562 water projects; which include reservoirs, water treatment, and watershed protection roughly costing $53 billion dollars, of which the state would be expected to provide loans for half of that amount (the loans would have to be paid back to the state by local and regional water suppliers). This high cost, which could be pared by more aggressive water conservation efforts, indicates that the state needs to be smart about allocating the necessary funds to complete proposed projects and needs to evaluate projects more closely.

Last week, Governor Perry took the stand in North Texas, urging voters to pass Prop 6. With the state population expected to double in the next five decades, Governor Perry has rounded up a bi-partisan group of supporters to rally for the passage of Proposition 6 in Texas.

Through this process we’re going to be able to turn two billion dollars in seed money that’s in the Rainy Day Fund into 30-billion dollars’ worth of water projects across our state,” he said.  “We can’t make it rain, but we can take measure to extend our existing water supply and work to develop new supplies.”

Rifling through the endorsements of proposition 6, one can find quite the laundry list of corporations, businesses, non-profits, and environmental advocates all throwing their name in the hat in support of this amendment.

Some of the organizations that have endorsed Prop 6 include: the League of Women Voters, The Nature Conservancy, Texas AFL-CIO, Ducks Unlimited, numerous businesses and trade associations, the Texas Farm Bureau, as well as the Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club. The diversity of support for this measure reflects the critical need to plan for our future water resources wisely in an increasingly drought-plagued state.

The Sierra Club supports passage of Prop 6 because of the commitment that state legislators have made to water conservation and to prioritization of water projects in the administration of the new state water funds,” said Ken Kramer, State Water Resources Chair of the Sierra Club, “It is important that the commitments to conservation are honored in the implementation of Prop 6, but voter approval of Prop 6 will be an important first step toward meeting the state’s water needs, and we urge Texas voters to cast their ballots for Prop 6.”

The answer is clear: Texas definitely needs to act on its water crisis problem. We all can agree that with a growing population and increasingly drier weather conditions, water needs to be at the forefront of our priorities here in the state.

Click HERE to view the official press release from the Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club.

Early voting: October 21 – November 1

Election Day: November 5.  

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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.

San Antonio Sets Example for Water Conservation in Texas

Nearly all of the water in San Antonio’s famed River Walk is recycled water. (Image credit: http://www.visitsanantonio.com)

As the world collectively peers into its magic crystal ball (which totally exists), most observers see a future ridden with serious environmental issues that will be difficult to manage – especially if meaningful action isn’t taken immediately. While many of these threats (like those of climate change) are global in nature, the degree to which different parts of the world are affected will vary. Texas’ future, for example, promises to be very difficult due to an increase in drought conditions coupled with a rapidly growing population – factors that will inevitably lead to a decrease in freshwater resources. Indeed, we are already experiencing difficulty in providing ample water resources to satisfy the state’s residential, commercial, and ecological needs – a fact that emphasizes the importance of water conservation, moving forward. Fortunately, San Antonio (the state’s second largest city) has taken on a leadership role in the state by successfully implementing aggressive water conservation measures through its public water utility, San Antonio Water System (SAWS).

Through a variety of incentives, educational initiatives, restrictions, and water recycling measures, the city manages to use roughly the same amount of water that it used in 1984, despite a 67% increase in population.

Much of this success can be attributed to its incentives for large-scale commercial water users, who represent 50% of the city’s water consumption despite being only 10% of the customer base. These incentives, which foot significant portions of the bill for water-saving retrofits, have been popular for businesses in San Antonio since they provide for high post-installation savings that typically allow businesses to get a quick return on their investment. For example, Frito-Lay’s plant in San Antonio undertook a $1.4 million dollar retrofit in 2003, for which it received a nearly $265,000 rebate; the retrofits also save the company roughly $138,000 per year, which means it likely recouped its investment in 2011. Most importantly, the plant’s retrofits have saved 43 million gallons of water per year and have even helped the company increase potato chip production. Other successful commercial water conservation programs include a rebate program for restaurants that has gotten 40% of San Antonio restaurants to lower their water usage, and a hotel rebate program which seeks to minimize the impact of the city’s bustling tourism industry on water resources.

SAWS has also implemented several impressive residential conservation programs like the Plumbers to People program, which provides free repairs to leaky plumbing for low-income San Antonians. Another effective initiative has been their High-Efficiency Toilet Program, which distributes new low-water toilets to customers with wasteful toilets. Both programs are very cost-effective and are praised for their ability to integrate low-income customers into SAWS’ conservation efforts. Most importantly, however, they save over 3 billion gallons of water per year.

Furthermore, much of the water that the city does use is eventually recycled. After being processed at a water treatment plant, it is commonly used for the irrigation of parks and golf courses, in cooling towers, and in industrial processes. Perhaps the most surprising use of recycled water, however, is for the replenishment of San Antonio’s famed River Walk.

Through these programs, San Antonio has made significant progress in reducing per capita water use from a high of 225 gallons per day in the mid-1980s to a low of 136 gallons per day, with a final goal of 116 gallons per day by 2016. Achieving further reductions in water use will become increasingly difficult, however, since opportunities to pick the ‘low-hanging fruit’ of conservation measures will become less abundant. Regardless, with more time to develop (and aided by progress in technology and policy, as well as phase-outs of water-guzzling coal plants), these programs will go a long way in securing water for San Antonio’s future.

Oh, and, it will surely help to have a mayor that describes water conservation as being “part and parcel of being a San Antonian.”

By Diego Atencio

DON’T WASTE WATER

We are all aware that our area is going on its third year in a drought. Texas had a lovely surplus of rainfall last year in the early months, but we have not seen many raindrops since then. As I look over the forecast for the next few days, and even weeks on some weather sources, I do not see much hope for precipitation. The scary reality is that we went almost an entire month (November 2012) without significant rainfall in Austin, according to Camp Mabry. This concern reminds me of  some similarities in the conditions that led to the Dust Bowl. Instead of hoping, wishing, and praying for rain we could take actions to use our precious resource more effectively.  We may not have a choice in the amount of rainfall for the area, but we do have a choice in the amount of water resources that we consume. There is a great deal we can do in our everyday water usage.

LANDSCAPING

  • Consider newer species such as Buffalo Grass, that require less water than St. Augustine and Bermuda
  • Irrigate lawns during the early morning hours or late in the evening because of evaporation from direct sun exposure
  • Use native plants that adapt well to Texas summers (Xeriscaping) -they are called “native plants” for a reason
  • Zone or group plants together that require similar amounts of water
  • Consider using rocks, wooden decking, and patio fixtures to reduce lawn areas
  • Construct or purchase a rain barrel for rainwater collection to water your plants
  • Adjust automatic sprinklers to turn off when it rains

  • Install modern landscape devices, such as drip irrigation, that applies water at the plant root level

  • Mow grass at taller heights when the summer sun becomes intense

INSIDE THE HOUSE

  • Wash clothes and run dishwashers only when you have a full load, or when absolutely necessary
  • Utilize front loading washing machines, which use ½ as much water as traditional clothing washers
  • Wash fruits and vegetables in a pan of water, then recycle the water on your potted plants

  • Retrofit with new low-flow water fixtures, shorten your showers, and lower bath water level

  • Repair leaking faucets and toilets that “run” continuously
  • Place a plastic bottle in older toilet tanks to reduce the water volume level

  • Do not waste a flush on items such as bugs, facial tissue, cigarette butts, or other trash down the toilet

  • Turn off the faucet when brushing teeth, shampooing hair, applying soap

  • Invest in a tank-less, on demand, hot water heater

  • Use a bucket to save water for watering plants while waiting for the shower to heat up

IF YOU MUST

  • Consider if you actually need to wash your car, or if the pool and hot tub are necessities

  • Turn off the hose while washing the car or use a bucket of water

  • Fill swimming pools at lower levels to avoid water loss

  • Cover hot tubs when not in use to reduce evaporation

  • Do not “sweep”  your deck, driveway, etc. with water from a water hose

A great deal of this may come off as common sense and common knowledge in the environmentally conscious community, but I have seen people misusing water first-hand. For example, tropical trees in a semi-arid climate zone, washing their clothes daily, using their dishwasher daily without filling it, etc, yet wondering why their utilities are so high. Yes, the world is made up of 67% water, but only 3% of that is freshwater and 2% of that is locked away in natural dams we call glaciers. Therefore only 1% can used by a growing global population.

Even if the environment is not your first consideration, saving water is saving money. Misuse of water leads to throwing your money away for unnecessary luxuries.

For further reading on Texas lawmakers addressing the drought, click here.

No matter your political affiliation, this is a bipartisan concern. So while the above list addressed habits that can be acquired around the house, a great deal of water usage comes from industrial uses.

source: http://ga.water.usgs.gov/edu/graphics/wateruse/wuin-map.gif

Texas is behind Louisiana and Indiana in terms of industrial water withdrawals. Now with this bit of knowledge there is something else you can do to conserve water, contact your local representative, express concern and urge for regulations on industrial water usage.

-Mike Ray

Sierra Club – Lone Star Chapter Intern

Sources:

http://www.arlingtontx.gov/water/waterconservation_tips.html

http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/environment/conservationnow/global/freshwater/

Lake Travis Party a Hit!

Austin Beyond Coal
Photo by Craig Nazor

Austin Beyond Coal sure knows how to throw a party!

Last Saturday, November 17th, the Austin Beyond Coal campaign hosted a great lakeside party at the Iguana Grill to kick off efforts in the lakes region to phase out the Fayette coal-fired power plant.

The Fayette Power Project is a 1,600 MW coal plant plant located in Fayette County, Texas that uses more than 5 billion gallons of water from our river and lakes every single year.  In a time of extreme drought, this is water that could be put to better use supporting our communities and farms, or simply being conserved.   As you’ll see in the pictures below, the fact that we are still in one of the worst droughts this state has every seen was very obvious while out on Lake Travis last weekend.

Lake Travis
Photo by Craig Nazor

Attendees heard from Austin Beyond Coal volunteers as well as Dr. Lauren Ross, an engineer who knows quite a bit about the relationship between water, coal and the LCRA; all of this while enjoying great food, great music from the Bouldin Creek Bobkat Band and a beautiful Texas sunset.

Bouldin Creek Bobkat Band
Photo by Craig Nazor

Missed out? No problem! For information on how to get involved in efforts to phase out of the Fayette coal plant and free up 5 billion gallons of water a year, email lydia.avila@sierraclub.org.

– Lydia Avila, Associate Field Representative for Beyond Coal

White Stallion’s Uncertain Water Future

After losing a 26,000 acre feet per year water contract with the Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA), the White Stallion Energy Center, a 1200 MW proposed coal plant for Matagorda County, Texas has had to scramble to find other sources of water. As a result, the developers announced a costly design change that they claim will reduce their water needs, but still require the equivalent of almost 1 billion gallons of water per year (about 3,000 acre feet).  To meet this demand without a contract from LCRA, White Stallion has quickly turned to private landowners in Matagorda County in an attempt to gain access to groundwater.  So far, most of the smart people of Matagorda County have not sold their private water, and the few sellers the coal plant’s developers have identified are not selling enough to meet White Stallion’s water needs.

Most critically, not only is the groundwater supply that the developer has identified not sufficient to meet White Stallion’s needs, but groundwater is also an unreliable water supply for a baseload utility planning to operate in a drought-prone state.  The Coastal Plains Groundwater Conservation District (CPGCD), which manages groundwater for the area, adopted amendments to their rules on June 29th, 2012 to allow them to better manage and respond to aquifer conditions such as the ongoing historical drought.  In order to protect the health of the aquifer for future generations, the District has implemented a curtailment scheme that will be implemented based on aquifer conditions (Subchapter B: Production Limits, Section 6.11.c, page 53).   This is a proactive and sustainable approach to groundwater management and is meant to ensure the viability of the aquifer for future generations.

What does this mean for White Stallion and other permitees?  If aquifer conditions reach triggers laid out in the rules, anyone who applied for a water permit or amended their permit for a different use after 2011 would be required to restrict their pumping by up to 80%.  Since both of the landowners who have agreed to sell their water to White Stallion meet these criteria, only 600 acre feet of water per year is “guaranteed” during times where aquifer levels are low.  Furthermore, all permits, under the CPGCD’s rules, are only valid for 3 years at a time– all permits are up for renewal every 3 years (Subchapter B: Application Requirements and Processing, Section 3.15.a, page 27).

Given the severity of the Texas drought in the past and its ongoing nature, it’s possible we will see curtailment in the future.   Does this seem like a good investment to you?

-Lydia Avila, Associate Field Representative

There’s no Drought About It: Lack of Rain in Texas Stirs Energy Concerns

In the society that we live in today, there are many figures and aspects that would just not be the same or function orderly without its dependent partner. Bonnie and Clyde, Batman and Robin, Brooks and Dunn, Abbott and Costello, and even PB& J are a few well-acclaimed ones that come to mind. Who would’ve ever thought that energy and water could be coupled together along with the other previous examples mentioned? Well the truth of the matter is that power plants require thousands of gallons of water a day to cool off their systems. And with the combination of the atrocious hot summers in Texas and the recent droughts occurring in the region, issues have arisen to the surface dealing with these situations and their consequences.

Bud Abbott and Lou Costello

Last Thursday, Texas Coalition for Water,Energy and Economic Security hosted a legislative briefing that took place at the capitol in Austin addressing energy and water issues. Guest speakers Dr. Gammon, Dr. King, Mark Armentrout, Cris Eugster and Kevin Tuerff all spoke about these concerns and issues as well as vocalized their solutions.

As the leadoff man, Dr. Gammon opened up the briefing by touching up on his forte climatology and how the local drought has taken a toll on Texas. Although Dr. Gammon offered some sign of relief when he claimed that we should not see the same drought of summer 2011 soon, he did add that there are still severe droughts ahead of us. Dr. King, Research Associate, Center for International Energy, stressed on how critical water is to power plants and that water rights in the region need to be more clear-cut. Dr. King shared his personal short-term goals, which were to have more education and conservation plans. He also proposed his long-term solution of implementing more renewable fuels such as wind and solar considering they don’t necessarily require cooling.

Mark Armentrout, former ERCOT board chairman, and Cris Eugster, Executive Vice-President of CPS Energy followed up on the briefing by adding their own separate opinions about the dilemma of energy and water.  Armentrout spoke about smart grid applications, which would allow people to see their electric cost data from their house. He also underlined the effects of rolling blackouts including the monetary side of it. According to Mr. Armentrout, the United States loses close to 80 billion dollars a year from rolling blackouts.

Einstein Bros Bagel store in Texas temporarily closed due to rolling blackouts in the area.

Being the Executive Vice-President of CPS energy, Cris Eugster offered confidence that increasing energy efficiency and implementing more renewable projects are well within hands reach. Eugster stated that CPS energy, a utility company in San Antonio, is the number one utility in Texas in terms of wind power and water utility efficiency in the state.  In fact, CPS energy recently signed on to a project that is expected to result in 400 megawatts of solar energy. Eugster also added that San Antonio uses about the same amount of energy as they did twenty years ago even with the dramatic population change. Kevin Terff, President of EnviroMedia, capped off the briefing by speaking about conservation education and behavior change. Mr. Terff primarily touched on the fact that people would conserve more if they understood the education and basic logistics behind it. According to a study by Terff, 3/4 of Texans didn’t know the natural source of water coming from their homes.

When bringing it all together, their combined consensus revolved around creating goals including increasing energy efficiency, pursuing and investing more into renewable energy as well as creating a stronger energy and water conscious community. Taking accountability in these goals will help put us in the right direction.

Related Links :Energy-Water Nexus in Texas, Trends and Policy Issues For The Nexus of Energy and Water, Social Impacts of Climate on Texas, Public Utility Commission Conservation Alerts, TexasEfficiency.com, CEE.org

– Jarred Garza, Sierra Club Beyond Coal Intern