Texans must learn to save water all year

Posted Thursday, Dec. 12, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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Texans understand the dire consequences a lack of water is having on our economy. That is why voters overwhelmingly approved Proposition 6 on Nov. 5 and authorized creation of a new statewide water fund that will help finance water projects across our state.

While the passage of Proposition 6 is a big win toward obtaining water security for the state, the projects it will help fund are still years and even decades away from completion. These projects also represent only a small piece of the overall strategy to guarantee enough water for Texas’ growing population.

While some areas of the state have received rain and are slowly coming out of drought conditions, at least temporarily, many areas are not.

Wichita Falls just entered stage-four water restrictions banning all outdoor watering and is currently considering even more severe stage-five measures.

In the small city of Plainview, the Cargill meat packing plant was closed due to a lack of water, resulting in the loss of 2,300 jobs and an annual payroll of $55.5 million.

In both Wichita Falls and Plainview, the lack of water is devastating the local economies.

So, until the water projects funded by Proposition 6 are complete, year-round water conservation efforts remain the first line of defense against dwindling water supplies.

Even though we are entering the winter months, we must still conserve.

Fortunately, Texas Water Smart, a first of its kind public-private effort involving elected leaders, trade associations and businesses, has developed a program to educate businesses and families about how they can take simple steps to conserve water during this time of drought.

The Texas Water Smart winter conservation tips include:

• As temperatures cool, your lawn does not need as much water to stay healthy. Adjust your watering schedule accordingly.

• If you are planting winter-hardy plants, use new potting mix to ensure that your plants are getting the water and nutrients they need to grow and thrive through the winter.

• Do a quick check of your sprinkler system to make sure your sprinklers are all working correctly and there are no broken pipes or leaks.

• Put a fresh layer of mulch in your garden beds.

• Use a broom instead of a hose to sweep away leaves from your sidewalk.

• If rain or freezing temperatures are predicted, turn off your sprinklers.

Water conservation cannot be ignored in the hope that proposed water projects will solve all of the state’s water needs.

While building new projects is a big part of the statewide water plan, we must all remember that conservation is the other big part of that plan.

A lack of water means a loss of jobs, a loss of tax revenue and a loss of economic opportunity.

For the sake of our economy and our overall quality of life, I urge everyone to follow these simple water conservation tips outlined by Texas Water Smart and ensure a sustainable water supply for future generations of Texans.

For more Texas Water Smart tips, please visit texaswatersmart.com.

Bill Hammond is president and CEO of the Texas Association of Business. bhammond@txbiz.org

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