Smart home experiment may change how we conserve water, build and live

Smart home experiment may change how we conserve water, build and live

On the banks of the Llano River, just south of Junction, Texas, amongst the cactus and mesquite trees sits a house that researchers hope will change the face of conservation. Atmospheric scientist Brian Ancell walked along the edge of this mesquite field. He walked past a small wind turbine, past a beige double wide prefabricated home with a solar array and around the corner to a central piece of his experiment: a 10,000 gallon water tank filled with rainwater. “This…

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TCEQ adopts new wastewater rules

TCEQ adopts new wastewater rules

In December, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) adopted new rules for the disposal of treated wastewater effluent by land application. In 2016, Austin petitioned the TCEQ to consider rule changes that would encourage beneficial use of treated wastewater effluent for non-potable purposes, such as irrigation of parks and medians or for toilet flushing within buildings. Beneficial reuse of wastewater effluent, which is often referred to as “reclaimed water,” helps protect water quality while achieving water conservation. It is…

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Water crisis puts Oregon community at a crossroads

Water crisis puts Oregon community at a crossroads

In a desert far from any city, farmers use groundwater to grow lush green hay. The hay fattens livestock all over the world. But there’s a big problem: The water is drying up. Now scientists warn it will take thousands of years for an aquifer in southeastern Oregon to recover, while residents there are already hurting. At Marjorie and John Thelen’s house, the well ran dry in 2015. “We’re not ranchers. We’re not growing hay. We’re just retired in the…

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Austin water use at record low

Austin water use at record low

Water use per person in Austin has fallen to the lowest point since the city began keeping records more than two decades ago. The historic low continues a trend in water usage in the aftermath of drought conditions spanning from 2008 to 2016 that strained Central Texas’ water systems. Austin Water officials tallied 2019 water use, including commercial customers, at 120 gallons per person per day. The water utility says it serves more than 1 million people in the Austin…

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Cookie-cutter suburbs could help spread sustainable yards

Cookie-cutter suburbs could help spread sustainable yards

Yards in Austin, Tex., look like most across the country: sprawling expanses of short, uniform grass. But when intense Texas droughts set in, dead brown patches deface the Kelly green monochrome. Instead of repeatedly replanting these patches with the typical sod, the homeowner association of one Austin neighborhood, Travis Country, offers another option: filling in the brown spots with less-thirsty native species. As Cynthia Wilcox, the association’s grounds committee chair, puts it: “When your grass gets big dead spots, stop…

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BSEACD denies motion for rehearing of the Needmore Water LLC Permit

BSEACD denies motion for rehearing of the Needmore Water LLC Permit

This evening at its Regular Meeting, the Barton Springs/Edwards Aquifer Conservation District (BSEACD) Board of Directors denied the request from the Trinity Edwards Springs Protection Alliance (TESPA) for a rehearing of the Needmore Water LLC permit. Blayne Stansberry, Director and President of the Board, stated that the primary reason the Board denied this request was that TESPA did not present any new information that would warrant another hearing on the matter. She further stated that the District held a 5-hour…

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Marble Falls, Granger added to statewide list of lakes infested with Zebra Mussels

Marble Falls, Granger added to statewide list of lakes infested with Zebra Mussels

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) has added Lake Marble Falls and Granger Lake to the statewide list of lakes infested with invasive zebra mussels after discovering established, reproducing populations in the lakes this fall. Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA) biologists confirmed the presence of zebra mussels in Lake Marble Falls after finding settled zebra mussels as well as their larvae at multiple sites in the lake. After Lake Lyndon B. Johnson was found to be infested with zebra…

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Edwards Aquifer Protection Program and sales tax funding questions answered

Edwards Aquifer Protection Program and sales tax funding questions answered

A dialogue has emerged on the relative merits of programs apparently now competing for a future share of the City sales tax. This has included confusing statements about the Edwards Aquifer Protection Program (EAPP). As chair of the Conservation Advisory Board, the recommending body to City Council for the program, I’d like to clarify by addressing key questions. What does EAPP do and why is it important? In policy science jargon, the EAPP is an elegant response to a wicked…

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Doctor’s orders: Support land and water conservation

Doctor’s orders: Support land and water conservation

Humans are a part of nature. We can’t be healthy if the world around us isn’t healthy enough to sustain, nourish and protect us. And without a healthy population, we can’t achieve our full potential for generating strong economies, driving innovation and securing a safe future. Nature is at the heart of it all. Supporting nature and supporting ourselves is one and the same task, and it is a critical task. Right now, Congress has a chance to make big…

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Q&A+water: Katherine Romans

Q&A+water: Katherine Romans

Executive Director of the Hill Country Alliance In this issue’s Q&A, Texas+Water Editor-in-Chief, Dr. Todd Votteler, interviews Katherine Romans, Executive Director of the Hill Country Alliance, a regional nonprofit focused on protecting the water, land, communities and night skies of the Texas Hill Country. She has more than a decade of nonprofit and legislative experience in natural resource issues and holds a Master of Environmental Management from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. Romans serves on the board…

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