Dallas Approves Water Conservation Plan, Continuing Twice Weekly Watering Limits
Updated at 1 p.m. Friday: Revised to include comment from Texas Instruments.
After seven years of conservation efforts, Dallas officials don’t want to dilute the city’s watering restrictions.
The City Council on Wednesday unanimously passed the 2019 Water Conservation Plan — which continues its mandatory twice-per-week lawn watering limits — as part of its consent agenda.
Holly Holt-Torres, a Dallas water conservation manager, said the vote “reinforces that our mayor and City Council recognize the value of water and how important it is to be mindful about how we use it.”
“Water is and always will be our most precious resource, and we must protect it as such,” Holt-Torres said.
In addition to continuing the watering limits, the plan also includes incentive-based programs to persuade companies and residents to make efforts to cut back on water usage.
For example, by retrofitting two of its properties to save 13 million gallons of water per year, Texas Instruments could receive a rebate of $94,000.
At a committee meeting on Monday, James McGuire, director of the Dallas Office of Environment Quality and Sustainability, said Texas Instruments is the No. 1 water consumer in the city.
“A large water consumer is not necessarily an inefficient one,” McGuire added Thursday. “TI is a large user, but also seeks to conserve and be a good steward of water resources.”
Nicole Bernard, a spokeswoman for Texas Instruments, said the company has a long-term commitment to efficient water use and reducing overall consumption.
“We consistently invest in various projects around the world to reduce, recycle and reuse water used in our operations — including here in Dallas,” Bernard said. “Where cities support these conservation efforts, it’s good for the community and for our company.”
Although the twice-per-week watering limits have only been in place since 2012, McGuire said that since Dallas began making more concerted efforts to save water in 2001, it has saved an estimated 316 billion gallons of water. Dallas has also extended its water supply by more than two years.
A city that was “once regarded as a water hog,” McGuire told the City Council on Monday, is now emerging as a leader in water conservation efforts in Texas and across the country.
The council also passed the 2019 Drought Contingency Plan, collectively with the water plan. State law requires cities to update their drought plans every five years.
While the conservation plan aims for more efficient water use, the drought plan seeks to provide the city with enough water to get through the drought of record, which lasted in Dallas from 1950 to 1957. In the event that such a drought were to happen again, the plan is designed so that after 3 1/2 years of a drought, the city’s lakes would still be 50 percent full.
Depending on the severity of a drought, the plan enables the city to enforce stronger responses such as a once-per-week water limit, prohibiting vehicle washing or surface cleaning, and issuing fees for excess water usage.
Both plans will be submitted to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality by May 1.
Much of North Texas is currently drought free, after a few weeks of being under abnormally dry drought conditions, according to the National Drought Mitigation Center’s Drought Monitor.
Recent rains have helped put Dallas-Fort Worth slightly above average rainfall amounts for this point in the year. Through April 25, 11.62 inches of rain had been recorded at DFW International Airport. Usually by April 25, the area has recorded 10.68 inches of rain.
– Jesus Jimenez, Staff Writer (Dallas Morning News)