FORT WORTH – Standing beside a floating pig emblazoned with the message “Stop Water Hogs,” Environment Texas today called on the Texas Legislature to adopt tough, mandatory water conservation standards in order to meet the water needs for people and the environment today and in to the future.
“Nobody should be allowed to waste water,” said Luke Metzger, Director of Environment Texas. “But even after the worst drought in history, water hogs are busy wasting our water and jeopardizing our future. We need the Legislature to adopt tough standards to save water and fund critical water conservation programs.”
The 2011 drought was the worst in Texas history, with rivers and lakes running dry and as many as 500 million trees dying. Tourism and recreation businesses suffered from low lake levels and river flows. Some communities even ran out of water and had to have it trucked in. Today, 77 percent of the state remains in drought, including a portion of Tarrant County.
Water is a precious commodity in Texas, yet the state’s rate of water consumption is outstripping our natural supply. Rapid population growth, excessive water consumption, and years of drought have depleted our natural water reserves and put Texas at greater risk of a water crisis. Without a dramatic change from business as usual, Texas’ water scarcity problem will only get worse. According to the Texas Water Development Board, Texas will need an additional 2.7 trillion gallons of water by 2060, enough to fill the Dallas Cowboys stadium almost 3500 times.
“We support the proposition that water is a natural resource and should be managed for the benefit of the people and the protection of the environment,” said Linda Hanratty of the League of Women Voters of Texas. “Further, water conservation should be mandatory, with adequate citizen education for effective water stewardship.”
According to the state water plan, about one third of all future water needs will be met by conservation and reuse. In order to achieve this goal, Environment Texas calls on the Legislature to do the following:
- Reduce water waste in agriculture (which comprises 56 percent of state water consumption) by requiring metering on irrigated land. According to Texas A&M researchers, metering alone could provide water savings of 10 to 20 percent because it allows producers to determine best management practices by measuring water use.
- Require oil and gas companies to recycle water used in hydraulic fracturing (fracking). Gas companies used an estimated 2.5 billion gallons of water in Tarrant County alone last year
- Establish water efficiency standards for cooling power plants. Water shortages last summer caused ERCOT, the electric grid operator for most of Texas, to warn of potential blackouts.
- Prevent homeowners associations from prohibiting the planting of drought-resistant plants by members.
- Ensure that at least one-third of water funding goes towards conservation and re-use.