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Texas is in a water crisis caused by drought and made worse by wasteful water use. During the summer of 2011. Texas was lilt by the worst single-year drought in our history, and drought continues to plague the state. Low water levels In rivers and streams threaten wildlife and strain drinking water supplies yet water waste is rampant across the state.
We applaud Gov. Perry for signing the most recent packet of water conservation bills. They will help cut water waste and provide new tools for Tcxans to conserve water.
Senate Bill 198 (Watson/Dukes) prevents homeowners associations from blocking members who want to xeriscape or put in native grasses and other drought-tolerant landscaping. Residential lawns planted with common lawn grasses like St. Augustine and Kentucky Bluegrass require copious amounts of water to grow in the arid regions of Texas far in excess of what native plants wotild require.
A recent Environment Texas Research and Policy Center report found that increasing the use of drought-tolerant plants in landscaping instead of traditional lawns could reduce withdrawals by 14 billion gallons by 2020. or as much as 240.000 Texans would use in a vear.
House Bill 857 requires water utilities to conduct annual audits of water loss. House Bill 1461 requires utilities to notify customers of the results of the audit and House Bill 3505 requires utilities to use a portion of state assistance to repair leaks.
Broken water mains leak more than two percent of the water provided in municipal systems. In the summer ol 2011. the city of Houston lost as much as 25 percent of its water to leaks. Repairing leaking municipal water mains would end the waste of at least 20 billion gallons of water annually.
The Governor also signed House BUI 2615, House Bill 3604, House Bill 654. and Senate Bill 700 yesterday. He has previously signed House Bill 4 and Senate Bill 385.
Luke Metzger Director, Environment Texas Austin