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Posts Tagged ‘conservation’

We need to take better care of our water

We lose way too much of it because our infrastructure is old and in need of replacement. At a time when the Lone Star State is facing a grave water shortage and its population is expected to double by 2060, billions of gallons are hemorrhaging from Texas’ leaky old pipes. The exact loss is unknown […]

What’s on the agenda for Mayor Parker in her third term

Now that Mayor Parker has been safely re-elected, with a better-than-expected margin, what does she plan to do from here? A triumphant Parker on Tuesday lauded her “decisive” victory but quickly shifted her focus to the coming two years, listing her third-term priorities as jobs, economic development, rebuilding streets and drainage, and financial accountability. “There […]

Mostly looking good for Prop 6

A good poll result for the water infrastructure Constitutional amendment. Texans support $2 billion in water infrastructure financing by a better than 2-to-1 margin, but nearly a quarter haven’t decided how they will vote on the issue this November, according to a new University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll. The respondents favored the measure, known as […]

Don’t be surprised if we have brownouts

That’s the message I take from this. Temperatures in parts of Texas have started hitting the upper 90s, and they’re likely to stay above normal this summer, according to a forecast by federal climatologists. That means another difficult summer for the Texas power grid. In a recent report, the North American Electric Reliability Corporation projected that […]

Shark fins

I’m not sure why the practice of shark finning wasn’t illegal already. Texas lawmakers are considering a ban on the sale and possession of shark fins, a move that reflects a growing trend to protect the imperiled creatures at the top of the ocean food chain. Conservationists say the global trade for the age-old delicacy […]

Water infrastructure bill passes

This is good. The Texas House on Wednesday voted overwhelmingly to create a revolving, low-interest loan program to help finance a new round of reservoirs, pipelines and other water-supply projects for the drought-stricken state. Lawmakers approved House Bill 4 on a 146-2 vote, but left the question of how much seed money to provide the […]

Adventures in water marketing

The headline on this story is about Texans’ increasing interest in recycling water. That sounds nice, doesn’t it? But there’s another way of describing it that maybe isn’t so appealing. Experts say recycled wastewater will play a key role in satisfying the thirst of a rapidly growing population. While reuse now provides 2 percent of […]

Meet SWIFT

SWIFT is the State Water Infrastructure Fund for Texas, which would be created by the big water bills of the session, HB4 and SB4. Basically, this is a plan to create a water infrastructure bank, to finance various water projects that the state needs at low interest, with some seed money from the Rainy Day […]

Finally a focus on water

The good news is that the 2013 Lege does seem to be serious about water issues. House Speaker Joe Straus recently said Texas’ water needs will be a high priority, while Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, who presides over the Senate, proposed tapping the Rainy Day Fund for $1 billion to finance new infrastructure identified in […]

HouZE

This is very cool. Independence Heights earned a place in history as Texas’ first African-American city, settled in 1908 and sovereign until it was swallowed by the city of Houston 21 years later. But tomorrow’s residents may be pioneers of another sort, as Mayor Annise Parker and a developer announced plans for as many as […]

Mapping oil usage

From the Natural Resources Defense Council America buys 18.8 million barrels of petroleum products every day, accounting for more than 20% of all global usage. This can drain roughly $1 billion on average every day out of the economy. This oil use also accounts for more than a quarter of the heat-trapping carbon pollution emitted […]

Who gets to use the water?

There’s a lot more demand for an increasingly limited supply. More than miles separate the rice farms of the Texas coast and the Highland Lakes, where the outward march of Austin is marked by each new house, strip mall and marina. They are divided by how to share the water of the Colorado River, pitting […]

Water conservation task force

Mayor Parker has put together a water conservation task force. “This task force will be forward-thinking in its approaches to addressing water conservation and water supply diversification,” Parker said, “taking into consideration Houston’s climate, existing water supply and alternative approaches to ensuring a robust water supply for decades to come.” Ideas include the use of […]

Laura Spanjian – From Industrial to Green Revolution: The New Houston

The following is from a series of guest posts that I will be presenting over the next few weeks. Bike Share kiosks in downtown. Electric vehicle charging stations at the grocery store. Over 15 miles of new rail lines being constructed. Wind turbines and solar on rooftops. Solar-powered mini-offices at schools and parks. E-cycling and […]

Conservation is still the best water plan

The state of Texas needs to do better at it. As Texas recovers from the severe drought of the last two years, water experts say that conservation is the easiest way to ensure that the state will have enough of water for future growth. Fixing leaks is one method that took on added importance since […]

Desalinization and power plants

The Trib has another story about desalinization in Texas, and reading it brings up a point that I don’t think gets enough attention. Interest in desalination surged more than a decade ago, when the technology became more efficient and cost-competitive, according to Jorge Arroyo, a desalination specialist with the Texas Water Development Board. But the […]

It sure would be nice if The Lege would do something about the drought

Don’t count on it, though. Most of Texas has emerged from its driest year on record, but the turn in weather likely will dampen legislative interest in the state’s water supply. Water planners, policy experts and scientists said Monday at the Texas Water Summit that they do not expect lawmakers to address increasing water demands […]

ERCOT hopes this summer is better than the last

That would be nice. Managers of the state’s primary electricity grid expect to avoid rolling blackouts this summer but not without calling on Texans to turn up their thermostats and conserve power during peak usage on the season’s hottest afternoons. The Electric Reliability Council of Texas is also bringing back mothballed power plants — some […]

Going green to save some green

The city of Houston has made significant investments in energy savings. The U.S. Conference of Mayors named Mayor Annise Parker the winner of Mayors’ Climate Protection Award last year for green building initiatives that incentivize conservation and energy-efficient design features. “We don’t do it just because we get attention. We do it because it’s been […]

San Antonio going for desalinization

Another thing we’ll be seeing more of in the near future. The San Antonio Water System is now pumping salt water in southern Bexar County as it looks for new water sources for the city. Tuesday the utility gave a tour of one of its first production wells in the middle of pastureland that will […]

There’s still a drought out there

Despite the rain, the state of Texas is still mostly in drought conditions, and the threat will remain for the next several years. Most of Central and East Texas beat long odds with heavy rains this winter, but experts warned state lawmakers Thursday that the drought is far from over. State climatologist John Nielsen-Gammon said […]

Houston may finally be drought-free

This was from a week ago. The rain brings the city’s official precipitation total for the year to 15.78 inches, twice the normal level, and a tally Houston didn’t reach in 2011 until early November. On Sunday, for the second time already this year, the city set a daily rainfall record. The day’s total of […]

Dry, not drought

Yippie! It’s official: According to the latest iteration of the U.S. Drought Monitor just released, the drought is over for most of eastern Harris County. Here’s the picture: Compare that to where we were at the beginning of the year and be amazed. But don’t get too cocky. Look at the chart accompanying the current […]

Rolling blackouts may be on the summer horizon

Better hope the mild weather we’re getting in winter translates to mild weather for the summer, because the alternative isn’t pretty. Inadequate electric power reserves likely will force Texans to cut back this summer to avoid rolling outages if the weather matches last year’s record heat, utility experts warned legislators [last] Thursday. “We have to […]

LED power

Good for Harris County. The county is joining a growing list of local governments switching out incandescent bulbs for light-emitting diodes, or LEDs, embarking on a $1 million effort to begin replacing the bulbs at the 880 intersections it maintains. LEDs cost $60 each while incandescents run $4, but the average intersection with incandescent traffic […]

The state of water in Texas

The Statesman has a long story about the state of water in Texas and its outlook for the future. Short summary: We’re going to need more than what we’re capable of getting now, and it’s going to cost a lot of money to bridge the shortfall. “For most of our recent history, we just treated […]

How dry we were

We were drier than ever last year. Federal scientists confirmed Friday that Texas had its driest year on record in 2011. The statewide average rainfall for the year totaled just 14.88 inches, according to the National Climatic Data Center, beating the previous low of 14.99 inches set in 1917. During the last century, Texas averaged […]

Seeking more water for Houston

I don’t know how I feel about this. After decades of fits and starts, Houston is pushing forward with plans to move Trinity water nearly 30 miles to Lake Houston. The reservoir, located on the smaller San Jacinto River, fills the taps for millions of people in the region. Planners say the Luce Bayou project, […]

Still more drought may be coming

Just what you wanted to hear, right? There is at least the chance of some good news, however. The drought that has plagued Texas is virtually certain to continue at least until early summer, climate experts said on Tuesday at a conference in Fort Worth. But what happens after that is anyone’s guess. The main […]

Recycling water

There’s more than one way to conserve water. The city of San Antonio recycles theirs to get the most out of what they have. “During wet seasons, the river functions like any other river would,” says Steve Clouse, the chief operating officer of the San Antonio Water System. “But during the dry seasons, we used […]

Our long term water plan

We’re in deep trouble if things continue as they are. Every five years, the Texas Water Development Board publishes a water plan for the state. The 295-page draft of the 2012 plan, published last week in the midst of the worst-ever single-year drought Texas has ever experienced, is a sobering read. “The primary message of […]

Not a drop to drink

I have two questions regarding this Trib story about the dire drought situation in Odessa. The city of Odessa, facing a dire drought situation, is looking to an unlikely example for help in finding water: the desert city of El Paso. Water pressure in Odessa dropped in August, and residents can only water their lawns […]

Can we have some of your rainwater?

This is just crazy enough that you would hope it might work, but it probably can’t. As the soggy East tries to dry out from flooding and Texas prays for rain that doesn’t come, you might ask: Isn’t there some way to ship all that water from here to there? It’s an idea that has […]

Baby steps on water conservation

I found this story about businesses finding ways to conserve water to be strange. I expected to hear about innovation and maybe new technology, but what I got was stuff like this: The 5-star Four Seasons Hotel recently began furnishing rooms with a ceramic boot that guests place on their beds if they are willing […]