Guest post from ESSENTIAL Class of 2013 participant Marc Miller.
Is water the new fuel for growth?
Oil has fueled the Texas economic growth for over 100 years. As the oil industry is going through a revival, it is now water that will determine whether the Texas economy can continue to grow.
Water is the skeleton of a healthy environment. Without water just about everything will shrivel and die. As Texas grows it is the availability of water that will determine whether the economy will continue to grow or... well, you know what I mean.
On Wednesday, November 14, our ESSENTIAL class got a glimpse into the future of water in Central Texas.
We were given a tour of the water and energy saving design of the AMD campus. The campus is a practical example of what can be done if conserving water and energy is incorporated into the design of a building from the very beginning. AMD has managed to save millions of gallons a year by:
- Capturing rainwater to be used in irrigation of the landscape
- Capturing condensation from air conditioning for irrigation of landscape
- Using low water fixtures in the building
AMD used no city water in the drought of 2011 to irrigate their property - a pretty impressive achievement. All of this was done with little additional cost in the design and construction of the facility. What this demonstrates is water conservation is cost effective when incorporated into the initial design.
|Panelists discuss water issues in Central Texas|
An impressive panel of experts on water was assembled to explain the current state of water in Texas and specifically Central Texas. The experts were:
- Robert Mace – Deputy Executive Administrator, Water Science & Conservation, Texas Water Development Board
- Matt Phillips – Government and Customer Relations Manager, Brazos River Authority
- Kirk Holland – COO and General Manager, Barton Springs/Edwards Aquifer Conversation District
- Jennifer Walker – Water Resources Coordinator, Lone Star Chapter Sierra Club
We have just survived one of the worst droughts in our time in 2011, but can it get worse? The answer is YES. We know from a variety of measurements we have had much worse droughts. Are we ready for the next drought? NO!
Do we have enough water for the foreseeable future? Well, it depends on whom you talk to and how far into the future you look. Williamson County has enough water to last until 2030. That assumes that growth is steady and water consumption grows at the current rate.
What can be done?
- Conserve. Reduce consumption through better water policies. This is both by reducing loss from leakage and simply reducing the amount we use both inside and outside of our structures.
- Find new water sources. Where the heck are we going to find new water?
Depending on where you are in the state, water comes from one of two sources:
- Surface water from lakes or reservoirs
- Underground water from aquifers
New water can be found by drilling more wells, but that comes with a problem. The landowners own the water. Hmm… do they want to give their water to someone else? Well maybe for the right price.
Water is cheap compared to other resources. In fact, the panel made it very clear it is very under-priced.
Are we prepared for the next drought? No, and it could become expensive.