News Feature | May 25, 2016

Report Slams Texas Utilities On Water Loss, Conservation

Sara Jerome

By Sara Jerome,

Water utilities in the recently drought-ravaged state of Texas need to do a lot more to save water, according to a new report on conservation in the Lone Star State from the Sierra Club, National Wildlife Federation, and Galveston Bay Foundation.

“Most of the water utilities evaluated need to substantially increase their water conservation efforts — even those utilities scoring highest could do more to help Texans save water,” the report said.

The scorecard relied on public reports including water loss audits and utility website data.

“We have reviewed over 300 water utilities in Texas to assess how much they are doing to save our most precious resource — water,” said the report, released this month.

Water loss is one area where the report found a need for improvement.

“Approximately 40 percent of utilities report a loss of more than 11 percent of the water pumped in their system — in fact about 20 percent in that group report a loss of more than 15 percent,” the report said.

It included a water-loss recommendation: “Water utilities should intensify their efforts to reduce water loss, increase their adoption of best management practices for water conservation, and set targets for per capita water use that actually reduce that use at an aggressive rate.”

San Antonio, Austin, and San Angelo won some of the highest ratings in the report.

“Among the state's larger cities, Austin topped the list of those with strong conservation efforts claiming 90 points out of a possible 100,” The Texas Tribune reported.

The report also surveys smaller cities. Kingsville ranked lowest.

Some cities with innovative conservation programs failed to impress the researchers. Wichita Falls used a direct potable reuse pipeline during the drought, but the city did not receive a great score in this report, according to Wichita Falls’ Times Record News.

The research report said the local water provider loses nearly 30 percent of its water.

"The challenge for Wichita Falls now that the most recent drought is over is to translate lessons learned during that traumatic period into an ongoing water conservation program that will result in long-term efficient use and stewardship of resources," the study's author wrote.

A four-year drought ended in Texas last year, and now the state is almost universally out of drought conditions, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.

To read more about drought issues and solutions visit Water Online’s Water Scarcity Solutions Center.