Spring into Action March 2019
The first day of spring, March 20, is around the corner. In the spirit of warmer weather, spring cleaning, fresh flowers, and—hopefully—spring showers, here are a few ways individuals and water providers can "spring into action" with regard to water use, planning, and smart water choices. Add these to your spring to-do list and follow the TWDB on social media this month for more ideas.
- Participate in Fix a Leak Week, March 18–24. Coordinated annually by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Fix A Leak Week is a good reminder to hunt down the drips and fix that leaky faucet once and for all. Leaks waste both water and oftentimes energy and can account for 10 percent or more of your water bill. As the EPA's website states, leaks can run, but they can't hide! For tips on finding leaks inside and outside your home, visit the Fix a Leak Week website.
- Browse the interactive state water plan to get informed about water in your area. This interactive website offers an up-close look at data in the 2017 State Water Plan and how water needs change over time across the state and in your region, county, or city. Learn about the projected population, potential water shortages, and recommended water strategies and projects to meet the state's water needs during the next 50 years. What's your area doing to provide a secure water future? Find out!
- Spruce up your outdoor space with water-wise landscaping. Prepare for the onset of another Texas summer by updating your landscape with drought-tolerant grass and native or climate-adapted plants. Proper mowing, mulching, and appropriate fertilizing can also help reduce the amount of water required to maintain a healthy landscape. Check out the outdoor tips on our website for more ideas.
- Put your rainwater to good use. Rainwater harvesting provides important conservation benefits to individuals and the state. It can help stretch a community's water supplies and reduce peak demands for water utilities during the summer months. Rainwater is free of disinfectant by-products, salts, minerals, and other natural and manmade chemicals that are typically added to water from centralized water supply systems. As a result, plants tend to thrive under rainwater irrigation. Appliances may also last longer because the water is salt-free. Consider setting up a rainwater collection system this spring to put this free resource to good use. Learn more about rainwater harvesting on our Rainwater Harvesting webpage.
Utilities and Water Providers
- Submit your Water Use Survey, if you haven't already. Texas State Law requires all recipients of the Survey of Ground and Surface Water Use to submit the completed survey by March 1 each year. Municipal Water Use Surveys are required of all active public water systems that are a community water system type as determined by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. Other water systems, commercial or institutional-type facilities, manufacturing and mining water users, and electric power generating plants may also be required to submit a Water Use Survey.
- Complete your Water Loss Audit and training. The Texas Legislature requires all retail public water suppliers to submit a water loss audit once every five years. The next five-year survey is due to the TWDB on May 1, 2021, for the year 2020. However, any retail water supplier that has an active financial obligation with the TWDB or has more than 3,300 connections is required to submit a water loss audit annually by May 1. Consider the audit an opportunity to better understand where and how much water is being lost from your distribution system and provide a baseline to track and improve water loss control.
As of January 1, 2019, all utilities submitting a water loss audit to the TWDB must complete a water loss auditor training prior to submittal. The training is available online, but we also schedule in-person trainings throughout the year. Keep an eye on the Water Loss Audit Resources webpage for upcoming dates.
- Participate in your region's water planning efforts. The regional planning process is a five-year cycle that allows the 16 regional water planning groups to evaluate how water user groups would fare under drought conditions over the next 50 years. The planning groups forecast population and water demands; assess existing water supplies; identify potential shortages; and recommend strategies to meet those shortages. Municipal members provide essential perspectives on the unique needs of their communities and are critical to the planning process. Even municipalities who may not have voting members on the planning groups can—and should—participate. One of the easiest ways to do so is to attend the public planning group meetings. Planning for the 2022 State Water Plan is already under way; make sure your community is accounted for!
- Evaluate your assets. Developing an asset management plan can help utilities gain a thorough understanding of their system's sustainability, prioritize projects, budget for rehabilitation and repairs, and position their communities to better meet customer demands. Being proactive, rather than reactive, can save communities money. By identifying vulnerabilities and moving forward with equipment repairs or upgrades before they become issues, communities can avoid the escalated costs associated with emergency downtime. Not to mention, this information is especially handy for regional water planning and ensuring long-term, reliable water delivery.
Through the TWDB's financial programs, it's possible to fund development of an asset management plan as part of the planning phase of a project. And while it's not required to receive funding, the TWDB takes into account when an entity applying for the Drinking Water and Clean Water State Revolving Funds has or is developing an asset management plan. Contact your Regional Water Project Development Team to learn more.