WHY CONSERVE WATER?
Population growth, a changing climate and recurring drought are straining Central Texas’ limited water resources. Conserving water is the cheapest and best way to meet future water needs. Water utilities, public officials, the business community and the general public all need to act now to conserve water for the future.
MORE PEOPLE ARE COMING
Texas’ population is projected to nearly double by 2060, with Central Texas growing even more rapidly. Population of the five-county Austin region (Bastrop, Caldwell, Hays, Travis, and Williamson) grew by over 41% from 2000 to 2010. Our limited water resources will have to meet the needs of more people.
Austin Area Population Projections
Source: Texas Population Center
DROUGHT IS A FREQUENT OCCURENCE
The level of water in Central Texas reservoirs and aquifers reached near-record lows during the 2008-09 drought. After a year with normal rainfall, Central Texas has once again slipped back into drought. Indications are we are heading into another dry summer. Learn more at the US Drought Monitor website.
CONSERVATION MAKES FINANCIAL SENSE
Conservation is by far the most affordable way to meet future water needs. A study by the Lower Colorado River Authority surveyed a wide variety of different methods of procuring additional water, including desalinization of brackish water in area aquifers, piping water in from the Simsboro Aquifer (part of the East Texas Carizo-Wilcox Aquifer), building a new reservoir on the Colorado River, and dredging the Highland Lakes to provide more storage capacity. LCRA determined that each of these is substantially more expensive, on a per acre-foot basis, than investing in additional water conservation programs. Conservation can also lower monthly utility bills and save tax dollars by delaying or preventing the need to build and expand expensive new water treatment plants.
CONSERVATION SAVES ENERGY
Conservation reduces the energy needed to treat and distribute water and wastewater. This means burning less coal and natural gas, leading contributors to greenhouse gas emissions that are warming the climate. The U.S. EPA estimates that at least 4% of our nation’s energy use is for moving water.
CONSERVATION HELPS PRESERVE INSTREAM FLOWS
Conservation leaves more water in our rivers and aquifers for habitat and wildlife.
OUR CLIMATE IS CHANGING
Most climate models project that Central Texas will receive less rainfall in the coming decades, as will the tributaries to the west and northwest that feed area rivers. The amount of water loss due to evaporation is projected to increase as average temperatures rise.
TEXAS CITIES HAVE ROOM TO CONSERVE
The Texas Water Development Board recommends that cities develop and implement plans to use no more than 140 gallons of potable water per capita per day (GPCD) by 2020. Most Central Texas cities are well above this recommended level and few cities have plans in place to meet it. (Note: this number refers to the amount of potable water used within a given city's limits divided by its population; it is NOT residential water use alone.)
The experience of San Antonio demonstrates that conservation is possible. In less than 20 years, San Antonio lowered water use from 225 to 130 GPCD through a comprehensive water conservation program involving rebate programs and other measures, without compromising its standard of living. For every dollar spent on conservation, San Antonio saved three dollars it would have spent on buying, treating and distributing water. (source: City of San Antonio)