May 08, 2012

Cattle, Cowboys & Conservation

Neda Simeonova

Even a water rich nation like the U.S. is threatened by persistent droughts, rising temperatures, sprawling cities and growing population.

Take Texas for example. A state known for Longhorn cattle, great BBQ, oil—and, among many other things, Lone Star Beer—struggles with a severe water shortage.

Last year, Texas experienced its worst drought in half a century. The state received only 11 in. of rain and some areas saw more than 100 continuous days of 100° temperatures. The sizzling heat affected levels of many of the state’s lakes, rivers and water reservoirs.

Making matters worse, Texas is one of the fastest growing states in the country. It is estimated that more than 46 million people are going to call the Lone Star State home by 2060—an 80%-plus increase from 2010.

Agriculture is the largest water user in the state, followed by municipalities and manufacturing.

Without the implementation of responsible water management strategies, demand will outpace supply long before 2060.

But Texas is fighting back. A number of cities have been able to significantly reduce their per person water use through effective water management and conservation efforts.
According to the National Wildlife Federation and the Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club,

the city of San Antonio has put a combination of several water efficiency programs to good use. Total water use in the region has remained fairly constant since the early 1980s, even though the city’s water utility customer base has increased by approximately 300,000 customers. This was achieved through effective conservation programs and incentives for residential and commercial users.

A firm commitment to water reuse also has played a huge role for the region. With more than 110 miles of pipeline delivering high-quality recycled water for use by golf courses, parks, commercial and industrial customers—as well as San Antonio’s famous River Walk—the city is turning its wastewater into a valuable resource, according to the San Antonio Water System.

San Antonio is not alone. The city of Austin also created an ambitious water conservation program that aims to cut more than 10% from the city’s peak demand over a 10-year period. And Dallas’ water conservation ordinance, “Save Dallas Water,” is designed to conserve water and extend the life of existing infrastructure by minimizing the stress on the system caused by the peak demand of summer water usage.

Even if rain does not come to Texas’ rescue soon, the state fully recognizes the need to plan for the future and is quickly becoming a national leader in water management and conservation.

With so many water wise practices in place, it is no surprise that the American Water Works Assn. has chosen Dallas to host its 2012 Annual Conference and Exposition. The editorial staff of Water & Wastes Digest looks forward to seeing you in Dallas.


About the author

Neda Simeonova is editorial director for Water & Wastes Digest. Simeonova can be reached at [email protected] or 847.391.1011.