Water Conservation

It's difficult to remember the importance of water conservation with the kind of weather we've had in the past few days. The Houston area is drenched, so cutting down on lawn watering shouldn't be too much of an issue. But as Houston Public Radio's Laurie Johnson reports, water conservation is likely to be a significant issue in the upcoming legislative session.

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In terms of water conservation, when it comes to times of plenty most people aren't looking ahead to times of want. But State Lawmakers Kip Averitt and Robert Puente spoke to members of the Greater Houston Partnership about the legislative push for water conservation. State Senator Averitt chairs the Senate Natural Resources Committee. He says the state's per capita water use is very high, partly because the cost of water in Texas is so low.

"We've all seen the benefit of educating the citizenry about where their water comes from and how it gets to their house and what processes that it has to go through. And I think that that increases folks' awareness about their responsibility with regard to water and what they can do and how precious the resource is and how volatile the supply can be."

Averitt says he believes the legislature will vote to fully fund the TCEQ's consumer education programs, including a water IQ test to educate Texans on conservation. State Representative Robert Puente chairs the House Committee on Natural Resources. He says water conservation is the greatest tool we have that we don't use.

"It's the cheapest form of water, it's the most reliable and it's right there for our taking."

Puente, a representative from San Antonio, says his city has implemented incentives and education programs to conserve water. Builders get rebates for using water tolerant turf. Homeowners get consumer rebates for the purchase of water-efficient toilets and showerheads. And the biggest culprit to target is lawn watering.

"With this rain that we've been having, especially here in Houston, we've gotten our share here lately in San Antonio -- if you have an automatic sprinkler system and you set it for Monday morning -- it turned on, regardless of whether it rained or not."

Both lawmakers say the upcoming session is a good time to tackle some of these issues because there will be a budget surplus -- and that means all those senators and representatives are more likely to fund some key environmental initiatives. Laurie Johnson, Houston Public Radio News.

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