Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Water Conservation?

I read a recent article by a Texas journalist on the state's discussions about improving water conservation.  It is titled:  Water Conservation Ideas Offered for Texas Legislature.  Interesting read. 

Most people read "water conservation" in their own context, and get a warm and fuzzy feeling about this motherhood-and-apple-pie notion.  How can conservation be a bad thing they say?  It means there'll be more for us - at least for a longer period of time.  And this is true.  But it can also mean more water so more people can partake - thus putting us right back in the soup again just a few years down the road.  

From the article: 

"Texas has passed water-conservation bills in the past. In fact, Texas and California rank first among all states in water efficiency.... Texas accumulated points for laws such as requiring water utilities to audit their water losses and limiting the amount of water that toilets and urinals can use. The Legislature created the Water Conservation Advisory Council in 2007; last month it produced a report filled with recommendations for the Legislature."   

And the very next sentence reads:  "But Texas, with its fast-growing population, needs to do more, water experts say."

OK, so it seems that in Texas' case water conservation is being promoted simply to provide water for more water users (i.e. that "fast-growing population").  Keep in mind it takes 8 people conserving 10% of their current use to support 1 new citizen - and that's if that new person starts out using water as conservatively as those who tightened their belts to provide it.  Otherwise the current use actually increases with that single new arrival, or the many others who were not planned for.  This of course also means that the water supply planners must have a very clear picture of how much and when to restrict new growth based on the conserved water they have created.  If not, they need an equally clear picture of when to start and how aggressively to promote their next water conservation campaign.  Eventually, there can be no more water conservation gains without economically stressing the host.

Anyone know such a group of water planners?  Or such a group who have the ear and support of the city council or governing body responsible for the economic progress of the city?  

The other approach is not to rely on conservation and seek new water "..somewhere over the next divide..".  Those that have already conserved to the max, or understand that conservation is not a reasonable solution (because it pretty quickly stops new growth) opt for this approach.  Is anyone thinking a certain desert city in Nevada?

Neither choice is necessarily a good or bad one, but I think it should be a conscious, informed choice by an involved public.  I wonder how many water planners are couching their plans of spurring growth by promoting conservation?  Nowhere in the Texas article do I read specifically what the state's intentions are in this regard, but reading in between the lines...     

Anyone have some thoughts on this topic?


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