Tag Archives: Water conservation

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Future of Water in Texas

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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.  

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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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/

SAVE THE DATE: September 29th-30th The 12th Annual Renewable Roundup is Back!

Renewable Roundup 2012!

At a Glance…

WHAT?!?!: The 12th Annual Renewable Roundup is a sustainability symposium centered around green living, alternative energy education, family festivities, and sustainable lifestyle practices for our future. This event wouldn’t be complete without it’s A-list of Guest Speakers, Hands-on Workshops, Eco-friendly Vendors, Progressive Exhibitors, Tasty Food Demonstrators, and Supportive Sponsors.

WHERE?!?!: Fredricksburg, Texas

WHEN?!?!: The last weekend in September. Saturday September 29th 9:00am – 6:00pm and Sunday September 30th 9:00am- 5:00pm

HOW?!?!: For more information on how to get involved with the Roundup as a either a participant or patron, visit http://theroundup.org/.

WHO?!?!: Everyone and anyone is invited! We encourage all individuals and families to come out to this great event looking to learn about sustainable living practices. This event is proudly brought to you by a joint effort from TREIA, Texas Center for Policy Studies, and The Texas Sierra Club Lone Star Chapter.

Learn How, Here!

In Depth…

DETAILS/ARTICLE: 

Great News!  The annual Renewable Energy Roundup and Green Living Fair will be taking place again this year in the beautiful and historical town Fredericksburg, Texas! Organized by the Texas Renewable Energy Industry Association, in collaboration with the Texas Center for Policy Studies and the Lone Star Chapter, Sierra Club, Renewable Roundup is a collaborative event centered around individuals, organizations, and companies passionate about sustainable living.  The event planning committee is working hard on making this year’s show the best ever. The underlining theme of this weekend event strives to promote cleaner and smarter ways of using our resources while educating the public about “Greener” lifestyles and options. This event serves as both a conference and festival, as it enlightens, entertains, and publicizes those interested in a brighter greener future. We would love to have you at this extraordinary event the 4th weekend in September (Sept. 29 &30). Please check out our website http://www.theroundup.org/ to find out more or contact Event Coordinator Laura Rice at info@theroundup.org.

INVOLVEMENT:

  • Attend!
  • Apply to be a Guest Speaker
  • Host a workshop the Friday before the gates open on Saturday morning
  • Reserve a booth or exhibit space to advertise and or promote a sustainable idea or product
  • Advertise
  • Sponsor the event
  • Volunteer at the event
  • Come to the VIP kick-off party Friday evening

Can’t Wait to See Everyone There! 🙂

-Danya Gorel Sierra Club Intern

~Special Thanks to Mentor and Conservation Director Cyrus Reed~

Let’s talk about water!

The Sierra Club’s Lone Star Chapter proudly co-sponsored the Brazos Valley Water Conservation Symposium on June 20th. The event was co-sponsored with the City of Waco, the Alliance for Water Efficiency, the Texas Water Foundation, the Brazos River Authority, and the National Wildlife Federation. Organized with the intent of educating individuals ranging from policy makers to water utility professionals, the meeting focused on the importance and benefits of practicing viable water conservation planning methods in the state of Texas.  The symposium, entitled “The Business Case for Water Conservation,” presented ways in which the region may meet its water needs through enhanced water conservation.

Ken Kramer kicking off the Brazos Valley Water Conservation Symposium

Toby Baker, the commissioner of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), addressed the immediate need to secure a reliable water supply for Texas stating that it cannot have growth without water availability. He talked about the potential for water conservation as a way to extend our water supply and then explained some of the issues surrounding water conservation. While TCEQ requires water providers to submit drought contingency plans, their capacity to enforce them is very limited. It is critical for water providers and state agencies to work together on conserving water as a way to extend our current water supply and better prepare for future droughts.

The Commissioner was then followed by Comer Tuck, director of the conservation division of the Texas Water Development Board. Mr. Tuck started by communicating to the audience that the year 2011 was the driest and hottest recoded in the history of Texas. Following a talk on the projected population increase, he spoke of the importance of funding the 2012 state water plan, a set of strategies that would help us meet the water demands of future Texans.

Carole Baker (Alliance for Water Efficiency and Texas Water Foundation) focused on myths related to the feasibility of performing water conservation. Common beliefs, such as water shortages being temporary problems that will disappear with time, do not reflect  their real nature. Instead, they are ongoing issues.  She then disproved the notion of current development being efficient by explaining that new properties use 20-60% more water. Ms. Baker concluded by clarifying that “wasting water is not economically feasible.”

Mark Peterson, coordinator for outdoor programs at the San Antonio Water System, spoke of the successful implementation of water conservation strategies in the City of San Antonio.  So what does it mean when it is said that the city is “on board” with conservation? It translates to meeting the water demands of a population 60% larger with the same amount of water supplied by the city during the 1980s.

Mr. Peterson explained that adopting the perspective of ongoing water conservation as being “a source of water” is crucial and that regulations are by no means a form of public punishment during dry times.  Another unique approach was perceiving customers as being part of San Antonio’s “conservation team“.  The reader should keep in mind that while water conservation practices in San Antonio are credited as being successful, the variability of the water sources and infrastructure of every water utility is different. That said, San Antonio can serve as a great model for other cities.

Lorrie Reeves, a representative of the Water Efficiency Network of North Texas, then talked about the benefits of creating local networks of water utility professionals and water conservation experts.  These networks consist of municipalities, water providers, and water conservation advocates that meet on a regular basis throughout the year. The purpose of these coalitions is to regionally reduce water use by working together to promote water efficiency education, programs, legislation and technologies and openly and actively share information and best practices. Through the networks, entities are able to efficiently share knowledge and exchange information. For example, by sharing strategies and goals with one another, the North Texas network  pooled their resources to educate the general public about irrigation strategies for clay soil (specific to the region).

Jennifer Walker leading the panel on the implementation of water conservation strategies in different Texas municipalities

While the success of water conservation programs and progress being made in numerous parts of the state of Texas  was apparent through the conference, the importance of coupling these programs and any restrictions with stronger education programs was a consistent theme that should be given future consideration.  Most water consumers do not understand the amount of water that is needed to keep a lawn healthy and often use too much, making it important to educate the public about the lack of need to irrigate extensively (Toby Baker).

-Hector Varela, Water Policy Intern

Special thanks to Jennifer Walker and Joanna Wolaver