Posts tagged “water conservation

Can you imagine a day without water?

By Jennifer Nations, Water Resource Coordinator

Think a moment about your typical morning routine.

You wake up and make a steaming cup of fresh coffee or tea before heading to the toilet and the shower. After you get dressed in freshly washed clothes, you eat a nutritious breakfast and clean your dishes in the dishwasher or sink.

Of course, you make your dentist happy by brushing your teeth.

Now, imagine for a moment that you had no water. None of your morning activities would be possible without safe and reliable water and the infrastructure that delivers it to your home.

If you’ve never gone without water, it’s almost impossible to envision a day without it. Your water service may have temporarily been shut off to repair a leak, but you had full confidence that the water would soon flow again.

Today is the fourth annual Imagine a Day Without Water, a nationwide day of education and advocacy about the value of water. The Value of Water Campaign is helping hundreds of organizations across the country host events and spearhead projects aimed at raising awareness about the crucial need for investing in our nation’s water infrastructure.

After decades of underfunding, water infrastructure across the nation has aged and needs replacement or significant repairs. Drought, flooding, and population changes have dramatically increased the stress on our water and wastewater systems.

According to the Value of Water Campaign’s report on The Economic Benefits of Investing in Water Infrastructure, a one-day disruption in water services at a national level would result in a $43.5 billion loss in sales for businesses. In just eight days, a national water service stoppage would put nearly two million jobs in jeopardy.

In contrast, for each job created in the water sector, 3.68 jobs are added to the national economy. For every $1 spent on infrastructure improvements, the United States generates $6 in economic returns. That’s a sound investment.

It’s not all gloom and doom. College Station’s water and wastewater systems are young compared to many cities. For the most part, we’ve been able to stay ahead of our infrastructure needs. Each day – including weekends and holidays – our Water Services employees maintain 454 miles of water lines, 363 miles of wastewater lines, nine groundwater wells, and three wastewater treatment plants.

City councils and community leaders through the years have recognized that water is essential to the quality of life and economic competitiveness and have supported the water and wastewater rates necessary to maintain award-winning water and wastewater systems.

At Monday’s city council meeting, Mayor Karl Mooney read an official proclamation (at right) for Imagine a Day Without Water to draw attention to the many ways we maintain critical water and wastewater infrastructure.

How you can help

No community can thrive without water, and every American deserves safe, reliable, and accessible water.

You can help by conserving water. Since irrigation water gushing down the street benefits no one, sign up for landscape watering recommendations from Brazos Valley WaterSmart. Every gallon of water saved is a gallon left in the Simsboro Aquifer for later use.

You can also help keep our waterways clean by avoiding over-fertilizing, picking up litter, and disposing of hazardous waste at Household Hazardous Waste collection events like the one scheduled for Oct. 20. Improperly discarded fertilizer, motor oil, and litter make its way into our creeks, which feed into the Navasota and Brazos Rivers – and someone is drinking that water downstream.

A groundswell of communities and partners have come together to promote safe and reliable water systems with Imagine a Day Without Water. We can make a difference by leveraging our collective power, educating our decision-makers, and inspiring our communities to make water infrastructure a priority.

Let’s invest in our water systems, so no American ever has to live a day without water.

 


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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Summer workshops are the key to smart yard irrigation

By Jennifer Nations, Water Resource Coordinator

With July being Smart Irrigation Month, it’s an ideal time to improve the efficiency of your outdoor irrigation system.

The City of College Station is here to help.

If learning how to program your sprinkler controller, spot irrigation leaks, and cut your water bills rank high (or at least somewhere) among your summer goals, you’ll want to attend one of College Station Water Services’ free summer workshops.

The first one is Saturday, followed by additional sessions on July 21 and Aug. 4. Each workshop is from 9:30 a.m.-noon at the College Station Utilities Meeting and Training Facility at 1603 Graham Rd.

Each participating household receives a rain gauge, soil moisture meter, and $25 gift card to a home improvement store to start you on your way to saving water. Residents will learn valuable sprinkler system maintenance tips, see the latest in water-saving sprinkler technology, get pro tips from a licensed irrigator, and learn how to receive weekly watering advice from the Brazos Valley Water Smart Network.

If you bring a friend, you’re eligible for a bonus prize!

If you can answer “yes” to at least one of the following statements, make plans to attend one of the workshops.

  • You water three or more times per week and are afraid that scaling back your schedule will damage your lawn.
  • You have a small lot or water only a small backyard, but your summer water bill exceeds $30-40.
  • You’ve had high summer bills in the past and want to avoid a repeat.
  • You don’t receive weekly watering recommendations from Brazos Valley Water Smart.
  • Your driveway or front sidewalk is wet after every irrigation cycle.
  • You have dry spots in your yard despite regular watering and don’t know how to fix it.
  • You don’t know how much water your system uses or how much your lawn needs.
  • Your irrigation system doesn’t have a rain shut-off device — or you don’t know what one is!
  • You see fogging or misting when your sprinkler system operates.

For more information or to register, contact Water Resource Coordinator Jennifer Nations at 979-764-6223 or jnations@cstx.gov.

 


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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College Station’s new water rates take effect July 1

By Jennifer Nations, Water Resource Coordinator

College Station Utilities hasn’t increased water rates since 2010 thanks to improved conservation efforts by our customers and the implementation of impact fees on new development.

Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end.

Last fall, the College Station City Council unanimously approved a six percent increase in water rates as part of the Fiscal Year 2018 budget. The council deferred the increase until the fourth quarter, which begins July 1.

College Station has grown more than 25 percent since that last rate increase. That means we need additional water wells to keep up with demand, along with another water tower on the east side of Highway 6. Without one-time impact fees, we’d need a 15 percent rate increase to pay for those necessities.

Water Usage Rates

Here’s a comparative breakdown of the old and new water rates:

Customer Class Usage Per 1,000g before July 1

Per 1,000g after July 1

Residential 10,000 gallons or less $2.26 $2.40
11,000 – 15,000 gallons $2.94 $3.12
16,000 – 20,000 gallons $3.61 $3.83
21,000 – 25,000 gallons $4.28 $4.54
26,000 gallons or more $4.96 $5.26
Commercial Indoor usage $2.49 $2.64
Commercial Outdoor usage (irrigation) $2.68 $2.84

You’ll be charged $2.40 per 1,000 gallons for the first 10,000, $3.12 for the next 5,000, and up the tiers as usage increases.

Your Monthly Bill

More than half of our residential water customers use 10,000 gallons of water or less each month, but some are consistently in the 26,000 gallons-and-up rate block. If you’re a 10,000-gallon user, you’ve paid about $32.79 a month for your water since 2010, which includes a $ 10.19 meter charge. If the existing rates had been indexed annually to inflation, you’d be paying $36.19 today, or $3.40 more. Under the new rate – which includes a $10.80 meter charge – you’ll pay $34.80.

That comes out to about 35 cents for 100 gallons of clean, pure water that’s rated as superior by state regulators. The chart below includes the monthly residential meter charge, which varies by meter size.

Usage Bill before July 1 Bill after July 1 Increase
10,000 gallons $32.79 $34.80 $2.01
15,000 gallons $47.49 $50.40 $2.91
30,000 gallons $111.74 $118.55 $6.81
50,000 gallons $210.94 $223.75 $12.81

Keep Your Costs Down

The City of College Station offers proactive programs to help customers reduce water waste and trim their bills, including free landscape irrigation checkups, direct outreach to the highest water users, rebates on water-saving products, and weekly watering recommendations from Brazos Valley WaterSmart.

Efficient water use is the least expensive way to make our supplies more sustainable, and it keeps your rates lower over time. Your water bill payment is an investment in our water future, ensuring that we can continue to provide you – and generations to come – with high-quality water.

For more information about water rates or conservation, go to cstx.gov/water or call us at 979-764–3660.


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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Sales tax holiday a chance to save water, money

By Jennifer Nations, Water Resource Coordinator

Memorial Day weekend in the Brazos Valley means it’s time to Remember the Fallen, along with high school graduations, dance recitals, athletic events, and more. But if you can carve out the time, it’s also a great time to make your home and landscape more efficient.

And it’s all tax-free.

The Texas Comptroller’s Office is offering a sales tax holiday on the purchase of certain water and energy-efficient products from Saturday through Monday. The sales tax holiday was made possible by legislation passed in 2015, and this year marks the second time the tax holiday has provided an incentive for Texans to conserve our limited water resources. In addition to tax savings, rebates for toilets and rain barrels are available for College Station water customers.

Eligible items are things that can be used to conserve or retain groundwater, recharge water tables, or decrease ambient air temperature to reduce water lost to evaporation. Mulch is on the list because it is an excellent way to cool the soil, suppress weeds, and help plants use water efficiently. You can’t go wrong with a good thick layer of organic mulch.

Other tax-exempt items include:

  • WaterSense-labeled products.
  • Soaker or drip-irrigation hoses.
  • Moisture controls for sprinkler or irrigation systems (i.e., rain shutoff switches).
  • Rain barrels or an alternative rain and moisture collection system.
  • Permeable ground cover surfaces that allow water to reach underground basins, aquifers or water collection points.
  • Plants, trees, and grasses.
  • Water-saving surfactants.
  • Soil and compost.

WaterSense labeled products go through an independent third-party certification process and meet the EPA’s specifications for water efficiency and performance. The beauty of WaterSense is having water-saving products in your home or business that deliver exceptional performance and savings on your water bills for years to come.

For more information, visit the Water-Efficient Products Sales Tax Holiday page on the Texas Comptroller’s website. Stay cool this weekend and enjoy water and energy savings!

 

 


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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3 steps to Fix a Leak and save money

 

By Jennifer Nations, Water Resource Coordinator

More than one trillion gallons of water from easy-to-fix leaks are wasted in U.S. homes each year. That’s why the City of College Station is joining with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to encourage you to find and fix leaks during this week’s annual Fix a Leak Week.

Sponsored by the EPA’s WaterSense program, Fix a Leak Week can help you improve the water efficiency of your home by finding and repairing leaks. In an average home, leaks waste more than 10,000 gallons of water annually – enough to wash 270 loads of laundry. That makes for a hefty water bill, too.

You can identify leaks in your home and start saving today with these three simple steps:

1. Check

Check your water bill and water meter for signs of leaks. If winter water use exceeds 12,000 gallons per month for a family of four, you probably have leaks. Read your water meter before and after a two-hour period when no water is being used. If the meter changes at all, you probably have a leak.

Water meters also have a leak indicator. If there is a plus (+) sign on your digital water meter, or if a red dial is moving — even slowly — when water isn’t being used, that’s a sign of a leak. Look for dripping faucets, showerheads, sprinklers, and other fixtures. Silent toilet leaks, a common problem that can send water bills soaring, can be detected by placing a few drops of food coloring into the toilet tank and waiting 10 minutes before flushing. If any color appears in the bowl during that time, you have a leak.

Don’t forget to check irrigation systems and spigots too.

2. Twist

Apply pipe tape to ensure plumbing fixture connections are sealed tight and give leaking faucets and showerheads a firm twist with a wrench. If you can’t stop the drips yourself, contact a licensed plumber. For additional savings, twist a WaterSense labeled aerator onto each bathroom faucet to save water without noticing a difference in flow. Faucet aerators cost a few dollars or less and can save a household more than 500 gallons each year — enough for 180 showers.

3. Replace

If you just can’t nip that drip, it may be time to replace your fixture. WaterSense-labeled models use at least 20 percent less water and are independently certified to perform as well or better than standard plumbing fixtures. Replacing an old, inefficient showerhead with a WaterSense-labeled model will shrink your household’s water footprint by 2,900 gallons annually while still letting you shower with power, thanks to EPA’s efficiency and performance criteria. With less hot water passing through, WaterSense labeled showerheads can also save enough energy to power your television for a year.

Replace your old toilet using 3½ gallons per flush or more with a WaterSense-labeled toilet, and you could be eligible for a rebate of up to $100.

Get Involved

Grab a wrench this week or contact your favorite handy person, plumber, or licensed irrigator to address leaking toilets, faucets, showerheads, and irrigation systems around your home.

If you find and fix a leak, take a picture (a leaky selfie?) and share it on Twitter (#ifixleaks). For more information on how to save water, go to cstx.gov/water or contact me at jnations@cstx.gov.

Related Links:

 


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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Live Blog: Thursday’s city council meetings (Oct. 12)

Back (L-R): Linda Harvell, Jerome Rektorik, James Benham, Barry Moore. Front (L-R): Blanche Brick, Mayor Karl Mooney, Julie Schultz.

By Colin Killian, Public Communications Manager

Welcome to our live blog from the College Station City Council’s workshop and regular meetings on Thursday, Oct. 12. It’s not the official minutes.

The meetings can be watched live on Suddenlink Channels 19 and 119 (HD), or online. An archive of previous council meetings is available on the website.

6:31 p.m.

The workshop has started. Council took no action on items discussed in executive session.

6:38 p.m.

Consent Agenda Discussion

The council will vote on items listed on the consent agenda during tonight’s regular meeting. Councilmembers pulled these consent items for workshop discussion:

  • Investment Policy: The Public Funds Investment Act requires an annual review and approval of the city’s investment policy and investment strategies. The act further requires that the governing body adopt a written instrument by rule, order, ordinance, or resolution stating that it has reviewed the investment policy and investment strategies and that the written instrument so adopted records any changes to either the investment policy or investment strategies. The City of College Station adopted an irrevocable OPEB trust on Sept. 11 and added to the investment strategy is the investment guideline for this trust.
  • Rio Grande Subdivision Parking Removal: This ordinance removes on-street parking on the northeast side of Little River Street beginning at the intersection of Harvey Mitchell Parkway South and extending 175 feet northwest to the intersection with a private alley.
  • Cordova Ridge Subdivision Parking Removal: This ordinance removes on-street parking on the northwest side of Cordova Ridge Court beginning at the intersection of Renee Lane and extending 640 feet southwest into its cul-de-sac.

7:05 p.m.

Water Conservation Update

The council heard a presentation by Texas A&M Professor Ron Kaiser, who has developed diagnostics to estimate how much water has been saved by local water conservation efforts. Kaiser provided a summary of significant achievements and ongoing programs.

He said the BVWaterSmart website and weekly notifications have played a significant role in reducing the amount of water wasted by overwatering landscapes.

Here’s the PowerPoint presentation:

7:08 p.m.

Mayor Mooney adjourned the workshop after the council discussed its calendar and received committee reports. The regular meeting will start after a short break.

7:18 p.m.

The regular meeting has started.

7:24 p.m.

Municipal Courts Week

Mayor Mooney proclaimed Nov. 6-10 as Municipal Courts Week to recognize the importance of municipal courts, the rule of law, and the fair and impartial administration of justice. Pictured below with Mayor Mooney are Municipal Court Judge Ed Spillane and the municipal court staff.

7:28 p.m.

Fill the Boot for MDS

Mayor Mooney recognized the College Station Fire Department for its participation in the recent Fill the Boot for Muscular Dystrophy event. Mooney proclaimed Oct. 26-28 as Fill The Boot Days in College Station. For more than 60 years, Fill the Boot has been a national firefighter tradition that gives hope and support to families affected by muscular dystrophy. Pictured below with Mayor Mooney are representatives of the College Station Fire Department.

7:37 p.m.

Hear Visitors

One person spoke during Hear Visitors when citizens might address the council on any item that doesn’t appear on the posted agenda. John Ellison spoke about the poor behavior he frequently witnesses on weekends in Northgate.

7:38 p.m.

Consent Agenda

The council voted unanimously to approve the entire consent agenda:

  • Renewal of a not-to-exceed $150,000 contract with Hilltop Securities for financial advisory services.
  • A $25,000 funding agreement with the Memorial for all Veterans of the Brazos Valley and its annual budget.
  • A $350,000 funding agreement with the Research Valley Partnership.
  • A $15,000 funding agreement with the College Station Noon Lions Club.
  • A $390,868 funding agreement with the Arts Council of Brazos Valley for art and tourism marketing.
  • A $25,000 funding agreement with the Bryan/College Station Chamber of Commerce and its annual budget.
  • A $114,376 funding agreement with Easterwood Airport and its annual budget.
  • A $325,000 funding agreement with the Arts Council of Brazos Valley and its annual budget.
  • A $2,280,236 tri-party funding agreement with the Brazos Valley Convention and Visitors Bureau and its annual budget. College Station’s share is $1,846,991 and Bryan’s is $433,245.
  • A $49,190 funding agreement with Keep Brazos Beautiful.
  • Estimated awards totaling $130,000 to CC Creations ($65,000) and M&M Apparel ($65,000) for city-branded uniforms.
  • A $400,000 funding agreement with the Brazos Valley Convention and Visitors Bureau to administer its grant program.
  • A $3.29 million contract with Elliott Construction for the Eastgate Rehab PH IV
  • Project.
  • A $301,495 contract with Binkley & Barfield for engineering services related to the preliminary design of the Greens Prairie Road and Greens Prairie Trail projects.
  • A $258,200 contract with Freese and Nichols for the Drainage Capital Plan.
  • A resolution stating that the city council has reviewed and approved the city’s investment policy, broker-dealer list, and investment strategy.
  • Annual water meter purchases estimated to be $166,078.27 from Aqua Metric Sales Company through the Houston-Galveston Area Council contract.
  • Removed parking on the northeast side of Little River Street beginning at the intersection with Harvey Mitchell Parkway South and extending 175 feet northwest to the intersection with a private alley.
  • Removed parking on the northwest side of Cordova Ridge Court beginning at the intersection with Renee Lane and extending 640 feet southwest into its cul-de-sac.
  • An amendment removing contradictory language from a Community Development Block Grant funding contract with Brazos Valley Community Action Programs for affordable rental activity at 1112 Waynesboro Ct.
  • An amendment removing contradictory language from a Community Development Block Grant funding contract with Twin City Mission for affordable rental activity at 2404 Blanco Dr.
  • An ordinance amendment to allow the CSPD SWAT team to have key box access.

7:58 p.m.

Northpoint Crossing Modification

After a public hearing, the council voted unanimously to approve a request to modify the concept plan of the existing Planned Development District at Northpoint Crossing. The change will reduce the width of sidewalks along Northpoint Crossing Drive to allow for the redesign of head-in parking and improve site identification and wayfinding.

Here are the PowerPoint presentations:

9:22 p.m.

Arrington Road Thoroughfare Alignment

After a public hearing, the council voted 5-2 to approve a request to realign a future minor collector with Harpers Ferry Road at the intersection with Arrington Road. Councilwomen Blanche Brick and Linda Harvell voted against the motion. Brazos County is reconstructing a portion of Arrington and requested the Thoroughfare Plan amendment to improve safety and efficiency in the corridor.

An earlier motion to delay the vote until additional information could be obtained failed by a 5-2 vote. Brick and Harvell supported that motion.

Here are the PowerPoint presentations:

9:22 p.m.

The council is taking a short break.

9:32 p.m.

The meeting has resumed.

10:38 p.m.

Roadway Impact Fee Collection Rate

After a public hearing, the council voted 5-2 against reducing the roadway impact fee collection rate to zero. Councilwoman Julie Schultz and Councilman James Benham voted for the motion. The action would have reduced anticipated revenue for roadway capital improvement projects by about $12 million over the next decade.

The council adopted the one-time fees last year on new development to help mitigate the estimated $134 million in capital improvements needed in the next 10 years. Maximum fees were adopted with a lower collection rate phased in over a three-year period, with the initial fees scheduled to start Dec. 1. The adopted collection rate is about 9 percent of the maximum identified by state law.

Here’s the PowerPoint presentation:

11:00 p.m.

Parkland Dedication Comp Plan Amendments

After a public hearing, the council voted unanimously to amend the city’s Comprehensive Plan to revise neighborhood and community park zones.

The amendments change neighborhood park zones to no longer include College Station’s extraterritorial jurisdiction and to combine some of the zones. The changes also reduce community park zones from four areas to two by combining Zones A & B into one zone west of Highway 6 and combining Zones C & D into another zone east of Highway 6.

Here’s the PowerPoint presentation:

11:30 p.m.

Parkland Dedication UDO Revisions

After a public hearing, the council voted for staff to bring back reworded revisions to the city’s Unified Development Ordinance regarding the broader use of Parkland Dedication Fees.

Here’s the PowerPoint presentation:

11:39 p.m.

The council discussed and reviewed future agenda items.

11:39 p.m.

Mayor Mooney adjourned the meeting. The council meets again on Thursday, Oct. 26.

 


About the Blogger

Colin Killian (@ColinKillian) has been with the City of College Station since 2010 after serving 23 years as associate media relations director for the Texas A&M Athletics Department. Killian has also done extensive volunteer work for the U.S. Olympic Committee and worked as a reporter and editor for the Corpus Christi Caller-Times and Lewisville News. A native of Hobbs, N.M., he graduated from Texas Tech with a bachelor’s degree in journalism/political science.


 

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