In 2011, a mere 14.8 inches of total rainfall fell across the entire state of Texas. The record low numbers, though catastrophic for Texas agriculture and municipalities, were conducive in achieving one important thing: bringing the State’s drought crisis to the forefront of every Texan’s mind.
Last Thursday, Texas Monthly organized a panel of experts to discuss possible solutions for the state of our water resources. Moderated by Texas Monthly Senior Editor, Nate Blakeslee, Life by the Drop: Solutions for the Looming Water Crisis in Texas, brought to light a wide variety of water issues currently facing the state. The two-hour Q/A session opened up by giving each panelist below, the opportunity to share his or her ideas on how best to solve the current crisis our water system is facing.
Kip Averitt – Former Texas Legislature; founder, Averitt & Associates
Laura Huffman – State Director , The Nature Conservancy
Robert Puente – President/CEO, San Antonio Water System (SAWS)
Andrew Sansom – Executive Director, Texas River Systems Institute
Todd Staples – Texas Commissioner of Agriculture
Conserve. Conserve. Conserve
Water conservation was by far the most popular solution during last Thursday’s event and was countlessly repeated by each member of the panel.
- Water conservancy is the easiest way to go.
- It can help achieve significant reductions in water usage, without requiring new municipal projects to be built, which would come at a cost to state residents, either in form of taxes or higher utility bills.
- Though San Antonio’s municipal population has boomed over the last 20 years, SAWS is still impressively using the same amount of water as they did in in the early 1980s.
- Water conservation is a method that shouldn’t be implemented only during times of drought, but rather it is a concept that must be adapted into every resident’s daily way of life.
Some metropolitan areas have made it beneficial for entities and local residents to participate in water conservation methods.
- San Antonio Corporations – encouraged to participate in programs like the Large Scale Retrofit Program, which offers a 50% rebate on the installation of new water saving equipment.
- Residents – encouraged to take advantage of Indoor Conservation Programs and Rebates. Kick the Can, an incentive program under this system, allows residents to receive up to two free water-efficient toilets, which contribute to water conservancy, and help individual residents save on their water utility bill.
In 1974, despite a smaller population, Texans used more water than we do today, due to a larger agricultural population. Currently, the quantitative water needs of agriculturists still heavily outweigh those of municipal needs.
Huffman and Staples:
Texas needs to find ways to optimize the way agriculturalists use water.
- Making water-efficient agricultural technologies like drip irrigation, satellite imagery and precision agriculture more affordable through means of loan programs, would help incentivize farmers to jump on board with emerging technologies.
Though water conservation was the highlight of the night and the main topic discussed here, if you’d like more information on:
- Brackish water resource methods
- Environmental water flow systems and why they should be included in the new State of Texas Water Plan
- Where the money will come from for all the new projects and upgrades outlined in the State of Texas Water Plan
- Stories by those affected by our current water crisis
- And many more interesting water resource topics