Innovative Water Supplies: Create, Store, and Re-use June 2013

Do you know where your water comes from? Do you know whether you have enough for the next 10 years? The next 30 years-or even longer?

Many people do not realize water is a finite resource. There is no new water; the earth is one enormous recycling system. The water cycle starts when rain falls to the earth, filling lakes and oceans and trickling down into aquifers. Eventually, water evaporates back to the atmosphere where clouds form and the cycle starts all over again. If water molecules in your glass of water could talk, they might tell you they'd been in the Nile River 500 years ago or the Indian Ocean 1000 years ago.

Many Texas communities recognize that water is a limited resource. These communities are actively engaged in developing strategies that help manage the next generation of water supplies. Some of those strategies include new water treatment and storage technologies, age-old practices such as rainwater harvesting, and an improved understanding of aquifer systems. These strategies are helping communities make the most of the water in their buckets, providing a way to clean the water, reuse it over and over, and protect it from evaporative losses.

Desalination technology is one way to tap into Texas' vast volumes of brackish groundwater. Rainwater harvesting is proving to be a valuable source of water for many households and institutions. Engineered natural treatment systems-such as wetlands-and advanced technologies are providing a flexible suite of options to clean and reuse water for multiple uses. Communities like Kerrville and San Antonio have successfully used another technology-aquifer storage and recovery-and capitalized on the technical and economic benefits of storing water underground for future use.

These strategies are not just pie-in-the-sky proposals. They are being used now. By the year 2030, current plans call for Texas to more than double the volume of water reuse supplies and increase brackish groundwater desalination supplies by 63 percent. Thanks to new rules mandated by the 83rd Texas Legislature, aquifer storage and recovery will also likely see an unprecedented growth.

In June and July, we'll feature stories about the state's efforts to support the development and management of these sources of water through desalination, reuse and aquifer storage and recovery. Check our Facebook page and our newsletter for more on these important topics.