WaterNow is thrilled to be hosting our 4th Annual Summit in Austin, Texas on March 27th – 28th, 2019! After holding this annual event in Tempe, AZ in 2016, Boulder, CO in 2017, and Salt Lake City, UT in 2018; we’re excited to invite our WaterNow members and partners to join us in the Lone Star State.
So, why Texas?
Like many western states, Texas faces a number of severe water challenges. Texas’ annual population growth is the highest of any state, with 1.7 million new residents predicted thought 2020. Texas is also prone to periodic droughts, compounded by the effect of rising temperatures, and is currently experiencing drought conditions across four-fifths of the state, prompting water restrictions in some cities and towns. This high population growth and intensified drought conditions, places increased demand on limited surface and groundwater resources throughout the state. In fact, experts predict that water shortages in Texas could begin as early as 2020.
On the flip side, Texas must also contend with the impact of severe flooding and stormwater throughout the state. This was exemplified by the destruction caused by Hurricane Harvey which resulted in $125 billion in damages and destroyed 204,000 homes.
Throughout our summits, we like to highlight local issues and important tools and solutions that our attendees can take home with them to help address local water concerns. As we highlight Texas’s challenges, we’ll also be highlighting the ways in which Texas and all other states in attendance can rise to the challenge of addressing their water issues through innovative and practical solutions that emphasize the importance of sustainable, one water strategies that integrate drinking water, stormwater, and wastewater.
In addition to highlighting tools for communities to put in place when they leave the conference, we like to spotlight communities that have implemented successful programs and innovative solutions to their challenges.
Austin, in particular, has been a leader in developing and implementing innovative solutions for managing their water resources. Austin, like much of the state, is prone to both drought and episodic flooding which are exacerbated by rising temperatures. In order to address these challenges, Austin has invested in one water solutions that utilize green and distributed infrastructure strategies. Austin Water has implemented a Waterwise Landscape Program that encourages techniques to reduce or eliminate the need for supplemental irrigation and customers are eligible for rebates if they use compost or mulch to retain soil moisture, use drip irrigation, or plant native plants. The city also has policies in place that encourage the use of rain barrels and green roofs to both supplement water supplies and reduce stormwater volume.
Perhaps most significantly, recognizing the serious challenges the city will face from a growing population and a changing climate, Austin Water is working with other city departments, a Council-appointed citizen Task Force, and the community to develop a water plan for the next 100 years. The goal of the Water Forward Plan is to ensure a diversified, sustainable, and resilient water future, with strong emphasis on water conservation. The plan also includes a range of strategies including expansion of the city’s reclaimed water program, aquifer storage and recovery, and decentralized methods like using air conditioner condensate, greywater, and stormwater to irrigation landscapes and flush toilets. This plan is on track to be completed and approved by 2019.
WaterNow in Texas
Everything is bigger in Texas, and this year’s Annual Summit is no exception! We’re looking forward to welcoming more Summit attendees than ever to Austin next March and to working with our partners to showcase success stories like Austin Waters’ so participants take home tools to enable success in their own communities.
I also encourage you to check out our new Summit website where we’ll be posting regular updates about our agenda and speakers. We look forward to seeing you in Austin!