City Council Workshop Discusses Long-Term Water Conservation

How is the drought affecting the city's water supply? That question was presented to the City's Water Operations Director at a City Council workshop Tuesday.

The workshop presentation was part of a report on water demand over the next 50 years, which included the drought contingency plan.

While the lakes the city draws its water from, like Lake Texana, are at 40-percent capacity, the Water Department continues its work on an ever-evolving water plan. Council members were told the demand in 2010 alone was more than 144 million gallons of water per day, and that figure is expected to rise more than 20-percent by 2015.

So Gustavo Gonzalez, the Director of Water Operations, outlined the Coastal Bend Regional Water Supply Strategy that the City oversees for 16 counties.

The biggest increase in available water will come with the completion of the Mary Rhodes Pipeline project, which could start phase two of construction as early as spring of next year if Council approves. Once finished, that will add 31 million gallons a day to our total water supply.

According to Gonzalez, long-term conservation will be important. An example would be making the no watering rules from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. permanent.

"Recycle the water in the car washes. Work with development services to adopt ordinances that would help and promote new subdivisions and zero-scaping those subdivisions, instead of applying normal turf like we do now," Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez added that surface water reservoirs lose two gallons to evaporation for every gallon pumped in. Because of that, his engineers are looking at using local wells to inject water into in case of emergencies like the ongoing drought.

According to Gonzalez, the next step after making watering restrictions permanent would be to only allow watering every two weeks. That would only happen in the event that this drought continues.

When will this regional water supply strategy take effect? Council has a final vote on the plan set for May 14.


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