Environmental concerns are traditionally a dominant theme in discussions of sustainability. Water management and energy use are as important to the sustainability of our region as any other single concern.
Access to water is not geologically distributed to match current growth and consumption patterns, and greater effort is needed to prepare the region for possible extended drought. In some corners of the region, water quality has much deeper meanings to economy, health, and engagement than just suitability for drinking. It is inextricably tied to the quality of life and personal connection to place.
Energy production consumes a great deal of water and generates air pollutants, green-house gases and hazardous waste. Regional air quality is influenced by multiple activities, some of which we can manage through local policy and personal choices – such as local pollution emissions, efficient mobility and land use coordination, public awareness – and some which we cannot – such as continental weather patterns and non-local emissions.
New large recycling facilities have improved the economies of waste diversion. Recycling and composting have caught on with the general public, giving administrators more leverage to expand recycling programs.
Current Demand for Water
- Regional municipal demand for water is greater than all other uses combined and includes city-owned utilities, public water districts, water supply corporations, or private utilities supplying residential, commercial (non-manufacturing businesses), and institutional water.
- While the Water Use Survey is mandatory for public water suppliers, major manufacturers and utilities, it is voluntary and subject to error.
- Long-term trends show an increasing transition from groundwater to surface water as a primary source for Central Texas (not shown).
- Extended drought (Central Texas was under extreme/exceptional drought conditions from April 2011 to March 2012) will constrain both of these sources.
- As a region, Central Texas is showing a sinking water table.
- Burnet and Hays County residents are most confident of their knowledge in the source of their water.
- Region-wide, about 15% of Central Texans have “no idea” where their water comes from.
Concern about Water
- Hays County residents are most concerned about the current availability of water, whereas Burnet County residents are the least concerned.
- Region-wide in 2010, 23% of Central Texans were concerned about a lack of available water.
Conservation Effort Awareness
- Generally, residents of urban counties are more aware of efforts and programs to conserve water in their communities. This may be a result of campaigns focusing on urban and suburban utilities and high-growth areas where current and future water use is and will be greatest.