AUSTIN (KXAN) — Two changes part of Austin Water’s Water Forward, a 100-year plan to ensure the city has water as it continues to grow and avoid any drought concerns, go into effect Wednesday.
One is a measure that will require all new major developments larger than 250,000 square feet within 500 feet of a reclaimed water line to connect to it. That’s a pipe that carries nonpotable water or water that can be used for watering your lawn and flushing your toilet. This move will expand conservation efforts.
Austin Water also plans to implement a new water benchmark program that will offer recommendations for all new developments — big or small — that could help save water.
“A lot of our conservation has been targeted at retrofitting existing buildings, changing out your toilets and your fixtures for buildings that already exist, but with new buildings, before you even build them there are cost savings that you can do by just planning ahead,” said Katherine Jashinski, a supervising engineer with Austin Water.
At present, Austin Water is offering incentives through its Onsite Water Reuse System (OWRS) Pilot Incentive Program and Voluntary Reclaimed Water Connection Pilot Rebate. Development projects that can replace 1 million gallons or more of drinking water each year are eligible for up to $250,000 in incentives to help with the cost of infrastructure and more to make it happen. Projects that can replace at least three million gallons or more could receive up to half a million dollars in incentives. This will eventually become mandatory in two years.
The program also provides up to $100,000 to those who connect their property to and use reclaimed water that’s not meant for drinking.
Every five years, Austin Water will review its Water Forward plan to ensure they’re taking the right steps to conserve water for the future.