Conservation Study

A Montgomery County Water Conservation Study

Prepared for Senator Robert Nichols By
Lake Conroe Communities Network
August, 2010
Mike Castleberry, Judy Sanders, Arch Payne, Dan Davis

Alliance for Water Efficiency

Some information in this Presentation “Was derived using the Water Conservation Tracking Tool Developed by the Alliance for Water Efficiency, and is used with explicit permission.”

Study Charter and Purpose

– Commissioned by Senator Robert Nichols in December 2009

– Characterize Current Water Use in County

– Project Future Water Demand

– Identify “Best Practice” Water Conservation Strategies

– Investigate Potential Water Conservation Savings

– Investigate and recommend potential legislation required to support County-wide conservation program

H20 Fast Facts – Montgomery County

• Total Water Used (2009) 70,532 AC-FT
• County Population (2009) 447,718
• GPCD (Gallons Per Capita Per Day) 141

• 94% of Water is Used by Municipal Sector
• 36% of all Municipal Water is used for “Irrigation and Other on annual basis”


High Volume Irrigators

• 24 LVGUs utilize more than 50% of their produced water for irrigation and other outdoor purposes

• 12 of these high volume irrigators use a total of 18,552 AF/YR, or 70% of total “irrigation and other water” used county wide

• Water efficient irrigation strategies targeted at these LVGU’s will have an important impact on overall municipal water use

[ chart of “High Volume Irrigators” — “Large Volume Water User” vs “Acre Feet Per Year” ]

Population Projections

• Population growth will drive future water use

• This study uses population projections provided by the Texas State Demographer
– Dr. Karl Eschbach at University of Texas at San Antonio
– 3 growth scenarios – Region H, UTSA-A and UTSA-B
– UTSA -A & -B Extrapolated 2040 > 2060

• Texas Water Development Board (Region H) uses more conservative population projections

[ chart of “Population Projections Used in Study” ]

Alliance For Water Efficiency (AWE)

• The Alliance for Water Efficiency is a non-profit organization dedicated to the efficient and sustainable use of water.

• The Alliance developed a Conservation Tracking Tool (an Excel based model) to help evaluate water savings, costs, and benefits of conservation programs for water utilities.

• The Study Team has estimated future water demands and potential water savings from selected conservation strategies using the Conservation Tracking Tool applied to the UTSA-A population projection and Montgomery County 2009 water use data.

[ chart of “Estimated Water Demand Through 2060” — “Thousands Acre Feet/Year” vs Year ]

Conservation Strategies

• Effectively implement State plumbing code changes mandated for 2014.

• Set standards for new residential/commercial irrigation and other outdoor use including : reduced turf grass, drought tolerant landscape, improved irrigation design, water use audits, etc.

• Incentives to replace existing inefficient residential/commercial plumbing fixtures and appliances, reduce turf grass and increase drought tolerant plants and improve irrigation systems.

[ chart “Montgomery County Water Demand Baseline Minus Plumbing Code and Other Conservation Activity Savings – Estimated Cost Benefits” — “Thousands Acre Feet/Year” vs Year ]

[ chart “Estimated Conservation Benefits – Savings From Incentive Driven Reductions From Existing Residential/Commercial and 33% Reduction from New (post 2012) Irrigation/Outdoor Other” — “Thousands Acre Feet/Year” vs Year ]

Short and Long Term Impacts

• Near term, the largest conservation benefits will come from an aggressive program of incentive
driven activities for existing residential and commercial consumers.

• Longer term, the greatest benefit will be from establishing more water efficient standards and practices for future residential and commercial consumers.

• Our savings estimates are likely understated, particularly with respect to commercial water use.

Are These Conservation Results Realistic?

• Yes!
• In the late 70s, San Antonio and Bexar County leadership implemented a long range water conservation strategy.
• Over a 30 year period, while its population was growing, the San Antonio Water System (SAWS) has reduced its water usage from 204 to 129 gallons per day per capita. (-37%)

[ chart “Montgomery County Water Requirements 2010 > 2060 – Three Population Projections — No Conservation / Additional Surface Water Could Be Required in 2030” ]

[ chart “Montgomery County Water Requirements 2010 > 2060 – Three Population Projections — Conservation Extends Need for New Surface Water From 2030 to 2040” ]

Conservation is No Longer Optional

• Conservation is mandatory if we have any hope of reducing future water use and avoiding future water shortages
• Truly effective conservation strategies will result in permanent reductions in water use, not simply substitution of one water source for another
• Aggressive water conservation will preserve our groundwater resources and defer additional surface water needs

[ chart “Potential Conservation Savings — 30% @ -42 Gallons Per Capita Day 2010 > 2060” ]

Is a 30% Reduction in GPCD Possible??

• Not Sure, but SAWS reduced usage by 37% !

• Possible only if Montgomery County Government and Lone Star Groundwater District collaborate to develop a long range plan for county wide water conservation management.

• Plan would establish reasonable conservation goals and county mandated conservation practices for developers, builders, irrigators, large volume water users, and individual water consumers

Managing Conservation

• Developing and managing a county-wide comprehensive water conservation program can best be achieved through joint efforts of Montgomery County and Lone Star Groundwater Conservation District

• Montgomery County Commissioners Court has the appropriate building permitting, rule making and taxing authority to enable a successful water conservation program including incentives and rebates.

• Lone Star Groundwater Conservation District brings existing water conservation expertise and rule making experience.

Recommended Water Smart Focus Areas

• Analyze and track water use in Montgomery County, drive aggressive GPCD reduction goals, and develop innovative water conservation programs.

• Require Municipalities, MUDs, and other LVGUs to develop individual water conservation and use plans, including reasonable but expedited goals and objectives.

• Develop realistic incentive and rebate programs using cash, appraisal discounts or other programs to encourage LVGU’s and consumers to adopt water efficient behaviors.

Recommended Water Smart Focus Areas

• Collaborate with developers, builders, irrigators, and landscapers to revise building permit programs, municipal ordinances and deed restrictions to require:
– water friendly landscaping (Xeriscaping)
– implementation of drought tolerant grass and plants
– reduction in grass landscaping to same area as building footprint
– maximum use of rain water harvesting for irrigation
– minimizing spray head use for irrigation
– Installation of TCEQ mandated low water plumbing fixtures
• Encourage maximum use of effluent for irrigation:
– Require new golf course projects to submit effluent irrigation plans
– Require new MUD permit applications to address plans for effluent recovery and irrigation

• Legislation may be required to fully empower the County and Lone Star to lead and manage water conservation going forward.

• Discourage amenity spray fountains and encourage waterfalls and other water efficient amenities

• Design model water rate structures which rewards low water use behaviors, and encourage adoption by all LVGUs.

• Review water use rules, ordinances, and enforcement programs used by other cities (e.g. San Antonio, Austin) and adapt for implementation in Montgomery County

• Assist legal counsel and legislators to prepare and advocate legislation required to implement county-wide water conservation rules and programs


• Senator Nichols, Judge Sadler and staffs
• MC LVWU’s, Lone Star Groundwater Conservation District, TCEQ, TWDB and Region H for support

• Alliance for Water Efficiency

• LCCN Board

• Study Team members

Thank you

General Discussion
Remember handouts on table


[ picture of xeriscaping ]

[ picture of xeriscaping ]

[ picture of xeriscaping and rainwater harvesting irrigation ]

[ chart “Montgomery County Water Requirements 2010 > 2060 – 2011 Regional Planning Basis” ]

[ chart “Montgomery County Water Requirements 2010 > 2060” ]

[ chart “GPCD Savings From Water Efficient Fixtures & Appliances” ]