A couple of interesting examples of municipal water conservation have crossed my desk lately; one has been in place for a while with great results and the other is just starting up. Both are great models for other cities facing water supply challenges.
The Success Story
The LA Times recently reported that Los Angeles’s February 2010 water use was the lowest it has been in 31 years! That’s right. Even though the city grew by one million people, overall water use declined. The 30 billion gallons saved in the last nine months is enough to supply more than half of Austin for a year. If that doesn’t illustrate the power of conservation, I don’t know what will.
Current water use in LA is 20% less than in was in 2007. Officials think that the decrease was originally motivated by the 2007 intense drought conditions. The residential user now uses 30% less than they did in February 1997.
The New Story
The Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex has often been criticized for its lack of conservation efforts, but times seem to be changing. When the 16-country North Texas planning area rolled out is water supply plan for the next 50 years, conservation and reuse was projected to account for 23% of future water supply. Perhaps this was the result of the realization of regional water shortages in the future and the understanding that saving water is a lot cheaper than large pipeline projects.
Now there is news of a public education campaign run by the Tarrant Regional Water District encouraging citizens to save water during the summer. The media campaign focuses on outdoor and indoor water conservation opportunities. Education campaigns such as these are a long term investment in creating a conservation culture.
Clearly there is a lot of work still to be done in this region and we would love to see an increase in the conservation only targets, but it’s an improvement. Hopefully some day we will hear LA-style success stories in North Texas.