Austin Water officials look to alternative water use to conserve water supply

Austin

AUSTIN (KXAN) — June is typically one of the wettest months of the year, but July is usually the driest month.

While predictions show this year show Texas could go drought-free this summer, it can only take a few weeks of hot, dry weather to return the area to drought conditions. When that happens, people feel the impact at home.

Last year at this time, nearly half of the state was in a drought, according to data from the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB). In Austin, the city tightened its rules on water use, as Lake Travis was 20 feet lower than it is today.

Austin Water is working on incorporating what water officials call innovative and cost-effective water reuse systems into buildings across the city, both residential and commercial.

“Everything counts when you’re talking about conservation, ” Marisa Flores-Gonzalez with Austin Water said. “When you’re talking about reuse, even though it may seem like this is one building it all adds up across the city of a million people, so every effort people can do to conserve water counts.”

In the city’s 100-year-water plan, Water Forward, approved by the Austin City Council in November 2018, it calls for water conservation efforts and some of those efforts include using alternative waters: rainwater, stormwater, graywater and condensation from air conditioning units to meet non-potable water needs.

Currently, there are efforts in place requiring businesses, schools, hotels, and shopping centers to use water-conserving plumbing fixtures.

The Austonian uses a 12,800-gallon air conditioning condensate collection system on the 9th floor of the tower for irrigation purposes on the 10th floor.

Twin Oaks Library has a 5,000-gallon rainwater system paired with a real-time controller to optimize the use of rainwater for irrigation in response to forecasted weather events.

Central Library uses 350,000 gallons of harvested rainwater, air conditioning condensation and water from a connection to the City’s centralized reclaimed water (“purple pipe”) system. According to the building manager, the alternative water supplies meet 89% of the buildings total water demands.

Source: Austin Water
Source: Austin Water

Moving forward, water officials are working on an ordinance that would require future developments over 250,000 square feet to use alternative waters to meet all non-potable water demands.

Tuesday, Austin Water is hosting an all-day free Alternative On-Site Water Use Workshop for those interested in learning more. The workshop will be at the Austin Board of Realtors Headquarters at 4800 Spicewood Springs Road from 8:30 a.m. – 4 p.m.

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