From the Texas Water Development Board
Water is a year-round priority for the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB), as it is for many Texans. But we understand that there can be many competing priorities during the holiday season. That’s why we’ve outlined 12 simple ways to keep water top of mind—and to make it even easier, you just need to focus on one daily topic or action during the next 12 days. Whether you only have five minutes each day or are looking forward to cashing in on extra time during commitment-free vacation days, we’re certain you’ll be glad that you made time for the 12 Days of Water.
Day 1: Get informed about the state’s water future
Start by browsing the Interactive State Water Plan website, where you can take an up-close look at data in the 2017 State Water Plan and how water needs change over time across the state and in your region, county, or city. Learn about the population projections (hint: Texas is growing!), potential water shortages, and recommended water strategies and projects to meet the state’s water needs during the next 50 years. 2070 will be here before we know it, and the future of Texas water affects your future. The more you know about the state’s water challenges, the more likely you are to use this limited resource wisely.
Day 2: Check for leaks
Don’t put this off! Leaks waste both water and oftentimes energy and can account for 10 percent or more of your water bill. To check your toilet for leaks, simply take off the top of your toilet tank and add a few drops of food coloring or a dye tablet to the water in the tank. Do not flush the toilet. If the coloring appears in the bowl within a few minutes, the toilet has a leak that most likely can be fixed by replacing the flapper or rubber washer. Cheap fix, huge savings!
When your monthly water bill arrives, don’t forget to look at the water meter reading, which tells you how much water you used during that cycle. If you notice a sharp increase, that could be an indication you have a leak. What can you do? Consult your water meter, often located along the property line near the street. Turn off all faucets and any water-using appliances. Read the dial on the water meter and record the numbers. Recheck the meter after 15 to 20 minutes. If the numbers on the meter changed while no water was used, you have a leak! The services of a plumber or trained water utility employee are often required to locate and fix these invisible leaks. Some utilities even offer free water audits.
Day 3: Practice easy steps to conserve water
Aside from periodically checking for leaks, there are several ways to conserve water as you go about your daily activities. Here are a few actions to start practicing now. Before you know it, they’ll be good habits that may translate to savings on your bill:
- Shorten shower time – Reducing your shower time from 10 to 5 minutes could save at least 12.5 gallons per shower with efficient showerheads. That’s over 4,500 gallons a year.
- Turn off the faucet – Don’t let water run when you wash your hands, brush your teeth, and shave. Turn it off until you need it again.
- Lower the washing machine water level – Use the lowest water level setting on your washing machine whenever possible. And when it’s time to replace your machine, choose a high-efficiency model to save even more water.
Day 4: Prepare for winter weather
With cooler temperatures finally arriving in many parts of the state, now is a terrific time to prepare your home’s exterior for winter. Turn off your irrigation system. Fall and winter rainfall is usually sufficient to sustain your lawn and landscape until the weather warms back up. You should also check for and repair any leaking outside faucets so they don’t waste water by dripping all winter. Keep your trees and landscape looking nice by covering exposed soil with two to four inches of mulch, which helps maintain soil moisture and protects roots.
Day 5: View the latest drought conditions report
Texas is no stranger to drought. Keep an eye on drought conditions by viewing theWater Weekly, a one-page update available on our website each week. This short summary highlights statewide reservoir statistics, current drought conditions, and other timely information.
Day 6: Find out how full Texas reservoirs are
Reservoirs—better known as the lakes Texans enjoy for recreational activities such as fishing, boating, and swimming—are important for providing water supplies for Texas. They contain much of the state’s surface water by capturing and storing rain and flood water for times of drought when the rivers are low or dry. Reservoirs provide water for a variety of purposes, such as power generation, irrigation, and city water supply. The amount of water available in reservoirs helps with water planning, forecasting drought, and emphasizes the need for conservation. View individual reservoir levels on the TWDB’s interactive Water Data for Texas website.
Day 7: Check with your water utility about rebates for water-efficient appliances and landscaping
Many water utilities offer rebate programs to incentivize updates to homes and businesses that would reduce water use. Outdoor rebates might include improvements to irrigation efficiency, converting turf grass to native plants, implementing landscaping features to retain water, and adding rainwater harvesting equipment. Indoor offers may include toilet and washing machine replacements and more. Your utility’s website is a good place to look for current programs, application instructions, eligibility, and deadlines.
Day 8: Familiarize yourself with maps of Texas
With 9 major aquifers, 21 minor aquifers, 15 major river basins, 8 coastal basins, and 196 major reservoirs (to name a few topics), understanding where Texas water is located can be quite helpful. And the TWDB has no shortage of maps. Our Texas Natural Resources Information System (TNRIS) division houses hundreds—thousands, even—of historical and current, paper and digital maps. Pre-made and custom maps are available for download or purchase, too. And if you think nothing ever changes with Texas’ water sources, stay tuned. On December 7, our Board will vote to approve the 22nd minor aquifer in Texas.
Day 9: Check out the TWDB’s scientific reports
Need to do some research on water topics? It’s very likely that we have a numbered report, technical note, legislative report, or user manual on our website that can help you. TWDB staff write many studies and reports, but they also supervise many contracted reports on various water topics. Whenever the TWDB funds or completes a study, we always make the study findings available to everyone through our website.
Day 10: Be prepared for the next flood
With its diverse geography and extensive, hurricane-prone coastline, Texas frequently leads the nation not only in structural damage but also in loss of lives related to flooding events. Given the deadly nature of floods and the rapid timeframe in which they can occur, being ready for the next event is essential. The TWDB’sTexasFlood.org is a year-round resource that serves as a centralized location for flood-related data and information on what to do before, during, and after a flooding event. Through the site, visitors can access resources like the interactive Flood Viewer, which tracks flood conditions by monitoring streamgages, weather radar, and weather warnings. Our Flood webpage offers links to other community resources and information about flood grants and funding that may be available to communities.
Day 11: Find out if there are any upcoming TWDB meetings or workshops in your area
It’s almost time to start thinking about new year’s resolutions. Make it a priority to get involved and have a voice in the planning and management of Texas’ water supply. Attending a TWDB meeting or workshop in your area is one of the best ways to dive in. Our online calendar lists upcoming TWDB-hosted events such as financial assistance workshops, water loss and leak detection workshops, and Board meetings, as well as regional planning group meetings, groundwater management area planning meetings, and more. The calendar is updated as events are confirmed.
Day 12: Catch up on our monthly featured stories
If you find yourself in need of reading material during the holidays, all of our past featured stories are just waiting to be read! So dig in, learn something new, and explore the fascinating world of Texas water. And if there’s a topic you’re curious about, email us at [email protected]. We’ll consider featuring it.