Despite many parts of the state having a rainy fall season, 44 percent of Texas is suffering moderate to exceptional drought. Statewide, reservoir storage levels are more than 15 percentage points lower than average. These levels are lower than they were in 2012. In 2011, Texas experienced the driest year on record and set a new low for rainfall, greatly straining the water supply. In that year alone, approximately 100 cubic kilometers of water (which is about the size of Lake Travis multiplied by 70) were lost to evaporation according to a study by the University of Texas at Austin. As a reminder that the drought is not over, according to the Texas Water Development Board, water levels in the San Antonio Segment of the Edwards Aquifer recently dropped to their lowest level for this time of year since the drought of the 1950s. Do your part to Take Care of Texas and conserve water in the new year.
Winter Water Conservation Tips*
- Remember to weatherize your irrigation system: Remove the water from the system, shut it off for the season, and insulate its backflow preventer.
- Winterize your pipes to prevent them from freezing, which can lead to pipes bursting and losing water. Water pipes in houses in southern climates (such as Texas) often are more vulnerable to winter cold spells. The pipes are more likely to be located in unprotected areas outside of the building insulation, and homeowners tend to be less aware of freezing problems, which may occur only once or twice a season.
- Locate your water shut-off valve. If a water pipe bursts or leaks heavily, knowing the location of your shut-off valve and how to turn it off can save valuable time and prevent water damage and water loss.
- Insulate hot water pipes to reduce the amount of water that must be run in order to get hot water to the faucet.
- To protect your pipes when you’re away, keep your thermostat at 55 degrees or higher. If you will be away from home for an extended period of time, have a friend or neighbor check on your house.
- Check for leaks in pipes, faucets, and other likely places. These leaks can lead to thousands of gallons of water wasted each year.
*Always comply with your water system’s water-use restrictions.
Take Care of Texas by conserving water during the winter months and anytime during the year. For more tips and publications about water conservation, visit Take Care of Texas Publications.
- Reduce waste. Salvage wrapping paper, ribbons and bows, and re-use for next year.
- Re-use holiday cards as postcards or as gift tags. Postcard: cut off the front and put a stamp on the other (blank) side. Gift tag: cut cards into smaller pieces, punch a small hole in the corner, and attach with ribbon.
- Recycle. If you’ve received a new TV or computer, visit Texas Recycles TVs and Texas Recycles Computers to find a location where your electronics can be put to good use.
- Re-use newspaper, boxes, shipping "peanuts," and "bubble wrap" to ship future packages.
- Recycle your holiday tree, wreaths, and other natural decorations instead of sending them to a landfill. Check with your community solid-waste department to see if they collect and mulch trees. Your community may use chippings from mulched trees for hiking trails or erosion barriers at the beach.
What else can we do? For more tips and environmentally friendly New Year’s resolutions, visit TakeCareOfTexas.org.
Registration is now open for TCEQ’s Environmental Trade Fair & Conference to be held on May 6-7, 2014. The Environmental Trade Fair and Conference (ETFC) is Texas' premier environmental educational forum featuring topics such as the drought crisis, oil and gas, air quality, waste management, and many more. Please visit the Trade Fair Web page for more information.
FREE Programs for Educators. The L.A.N.D.S. Outreach Department of the Texas Wildlife Association has announced their free spring 2014 programs. Download a programs flyer or register to bring high quality, interactive, and hands-on natural resource education materials to your classroom this spring.
Our Customer Satisfaction Survey is now available in a mobile format, making it easy to read and take on your smartphone or tablet. Let us know how we are doing, and how we can improve our customer service.