From Policy to Reality
Ensuring that Texas is sustainable in the 21st century depends in large part on smart management of the state’s water resources. A central element of that challenge is improving the efficiency of water use in the rapidly growing urban areas of the state. More efficient water use technologies, more sophisticated understanding of water pricing, and the ability to more carefully measure water use at both the individual and municipal level provide new opportunities to reach advanced levels of water use efficiency.
Water supply planning is constantly evolving and forces such as population growth and climate change are making it more difficult. Texas leaders have increasingly recognized that municipal water conservation is an important part of planning to meet future needs. In recent years, lawmakers have strengthened municipal water conservation planning requirements. Cities, large and small, are beginning to implement these requirements, some with more enthusiasm and foresight than others.
This report’s evaluation of 18 municipal water conservation plans demonstrates that the quality and scope of these of plans vary significantly. A few of the plans—and their early results—represent some of the most progressive municipal water conservation efforts in the country. Others—in fact, the majority of plans reviewed—lack aggressive conservation targets or fail to incorporate the full range of price and nonprice conservation measures and technologies readily available.
This report highlights both the good and the “not-so-great” in a broad sampling of current municipal conservation plans. It is our hope that this discussion will foster a more widespread appraisal of how state agencies and cities can improve water conservation planning and achieve the kind of major efficiency gains necessary to meet municipal water needs while still providing healthy rivers and streams for current and future generations.
Amy Hardberger, From Policy to Reality: Maximizing Urban Water Conservation in Texas (2008).