By Jennifer Nations, Water Resource Coordinator
If you’re among the more than 500 College Station residents who’ve signed up to receive irrigation notices from Brazos Valley WaterSmart, you’ve seen the impact of the innovative program on your water bill. For those of us who keep an eye on our precious aquifers, the impact has been even more dramatic.
The program’s goal is to improve residential outdoor water use and reduce landscape overwatering, and it’s succeeded beyond anyone’s expectations. When you consider our population has grown by about 30 percent since the 2010 Census, the results are downright astounding.
The water budgets it generates and other interventions such as our irrigation checkups have reduced the number of high-volume single-family residential consumers in College Station by nearly 50 percent. Since the program’s inception in 2010, the cumulative reduction in water use in College Station is more than 630 million gallons of water. That’s about how much our community consumes in two full winter months.
The program has even had a positive effect on the efficient use of your tax dollars, trimming the City of College Station’s electric bill by at least $110,000 a year because of reduced pumping, treatment, and electricity needed for distribution.
It’s not surprising that others across the state have noticed our miracle on the Brazos.
Last week, Brazos Valley WaterSmart received the prestigious Blue Legacy Award from the Texas Water Development Board as part of “Texas Water Day at the Capitol” in Austin. The award recognizes those who have demonstrated an outstanding and innovative commitment to the state’s mission of promoting responsible management of water resources and the conservation of our water resources.
Brazos Valley WaterSmart is an educational and research partnership of Texas A&M University, the Brazos Valley Groundwater Conservation District, and the City of College Station. That means a lot of outstanding people are behind this tremendous success story.
How BV WaterSmart Happened
Faculty, staff and graduate students from the A&M’s Water Management and Hydrological Science degree program, Texas AgriLife Research, and the Texas Center for Applied Technology worked with staff from the city and district to develop the program. Agriculture and Life Sciences Professor Ronald Kaiser is the director.
The research team found that about half of the water used in College Station and Bryan is for landscape, lawn, and outdoor purposes. They knew that helping the community find creative and innovative ways to be more efficient was the key to significant savings.
The six programs they created include weather stations, a website, personalized weekly watering notifications, residential water budgets, free residential irrigation system inspections, water conservation seminars, and public service announcements. Each program focuses on a different aspect of outdoor water usage to educate residents on ways to conserve.
To everyone involved — especially the environmental technicians who work on specifying, installing, and maintaining the weather stations and rain gauges that make up the weather-based watering recommendations — WAY TO GO!
About the Blogger
Jennifer Nations has been the City of College Station’s water resource coordinator since 1999 after two years as BVSWMA’s environmental compliance officer. She’s also chair of the Water Conservation and Reuse Division for the Texas Section of the American Water Works Association. A native of Fremont, Calif., Jennifer earned a bachelor’s degree in environmental & resource science from UC-Davis in 1995 and a master’s degree in water management & hydrologic science from Texas A&M in 2016.
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