Austin hosts national water conference as leaders develop conservation rules

Austin

AUSTIN (KXAN) — National leaders in water conservation convene in Austin Wednesday for a three-day conference focused on protecting natural resources.

The One Water Summit is an annual event, hosted by the U.S. Water Alliance, held in different cities around the country.

Austin Mayor Steve Adler and City Manager Spencer Cronk will speak at the conference Thursday and attendees will go on site visits to various places around Central Texas implementing new ways to conserve and reuse water.

It comes as the city implements the first steps in its Water Forward plan, a 100-year strategy to conserve and protect water resources in the region.

Austin Water’s assistant director for water resources management, Kevin Critendon, said the conference is an opportunity to showcase what Austin is doing as part of that plan, but also to learn from groups that are doing more.

“[There are] opportunities to interact with San Francisco public utility, as an example, who’s really kind of leading the way across the nation on water re-use in commercial buildings,” Critendon said. “So that’ll help us inform our process and how we try to do similar activities here in town.”

Austin Water has been holding public meetings about proposals to require big commercial buildings to use recycled water for all non-drinking purposes, including flushing toilets and watering plants. Recycled water can be anything from rainwater to air conditioning condensate to graywater, a term to describe wastewater from sinks, drains and other sources besides toilets.

“A lot of what we’re doing is really already pushing the envelope,” Critendon said.

Conservation groups are also capitalizing on the gathering to promote their efforts to protect local waterways. The Texas Brewshed Alliance is taking the opportunity to debut three beers brewed according to the same recipe but with different water sources.

“That way, people can taste the difference that water has on the beer,” Thomas Waymouth, director of the Texas Brewshed Alliance, told KXAN when it launched the project in July.

The organization, part of the Wimberley Valley Watershed Association, is now ready to debut the brews: Real Ale Brewing Company’s “Downpour,” made with rainwater; Vista Brewing’s Trinity Aquifer-based “Wellhead”; and, using Austin city water from Lake Travis, Black Star Co-Op’s “Austin Underground.”

The lagers will all be available Friday night, the final day of the One Water Summit, at Craft Pride on Rainey Street from 6-9 p.m.

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