Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Time to Get Serious About Water Conservation...

The recent restrictions on water use have most Galveston gardeners pretty pissed off. They immediately point to the loophole that allows folks to wash their cars but NOT irrigate their yard. While I agree that is a totally assinine rule, I don't see enough people out there washing their cars to result in a significant water loss/savings. So - although this may be a great topic to debate it has little to do with the REAL problem.

What is the problem you ask?

We don't have a LONG TERM plan for water use and conservation. The development of such a plan requires thought and (wait for it...) PLANNING. NOT just  a knee-jerk reaction to a drought.

This plan may include a number of different proactive elements - including things like;

Requiring all hotels/motels to install low-flow shower heads and water-saver toilets.

Improvements in water delivery/treatment infrastructure (i.e. leaks, bigger pipeline, wells, etc.)

Investment in a gray water treatment and delivery system. (San Antonio has a good model).

Restrictions on Agricultural and Industrial  water use (usually the last thing to go).

AND last but not least - greater emphasis on landscape water conservation.

Improvements in landscape water conservation can be implemented through:

Education (the GC Master Gardeners could handle this one)

Structured water rates (the more you use the more you pay)

Limiting the amount of turfgrass on commercial/residential building permits.

Quit issuing new building permits until we can meet the water demand (OK - I know that one's crazy).

$$$ incentives (there's already a provision in the TX Tax Code to provide rebaits for water conservation).

Of course these are all LONG TERM solutions and we've got our tails in a sling right NOW. So what to do?

I recognize that these latest restrictions have been implemented by TCEQ, not the city. But the COG is responsible for enforcement. So that means we should have some room for "interpretation."

So here are "my" suggestions on how these new guidelines could be realistically interpreted...

First - we can't let all of these newly planted trees die from drought. So Mayor Joe and the Council need to immediately announce that no one will be hauled off to jail for watering their trees using a HAND HELD HOSE.

Next - suspend all turfgrass irrigation. That's the real water guzzler.

Go back to the day of the week restrictions for irrigating landscape beds/shrubs.

LASTLY - make sure we don't get caught with our britches down around our knees the NEXT  time we have a drought.

Oh - BTW. We have lots of good info on landscape water conservation on the Galveston Gardening website.


Pris said...

FYI - GITC and Tree Committee folks are all over this issue. I'm going to add your recommendations with a link to GG, to our suggestions to TCEQ and COG. Most of the last few days have been spent trying to get some easing of restrictions for new trees. Thanks for this blog - everything will help!

Anonymous said...

Absolutely on-target Don. How about chairing a citizens' task force on water conservation?

greggo said...

Good points. I live in San Antonio during the previous drought. They actually were mandated to reduce water use, the feds came in with the endangered species act. Maybe you can find a endangered turd roller somewhere. lol. anyways a little preventative maintenance saves a lot of repair down the road. greggo.

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