Drought Update: regional drought likely, keep conserving water

Let me guess, you probably had a coat on hand before winter arrived, a spare tire in the trunk in case of a flat, and a flashlight around the house should the power go out. The concept couldn’t be simpler: be prepared, save yourself some trouble. This simple logic is even more critical when it comes to our life-sustaining resources, like clean water.  

The ready availability of clean water hinges on a number of factors. Some we can control. Unfortunately, some we can’t, like the weather. We are at the mercy of precipitation to recharge our surface and groundwaters. When precipitation wanes for an extended period – drought – the accessibility of our water supply wanes, too. The longer and more severe the drought, the harder and more expensive it is to meet our water demands.  

Despite above-average rainfall in December, Montgomery County was in abnormally dry status at year’s end. Weather experts project drought status for the entire state through the summer.  

In December 2020, Montgomery county transitioned from moderate drought to abnormally dry. Click here  for the most recent drought report from the Texas Water Development Board. 

The Texas Water Development Board oversees planning for water needs by region. Their Region H 2021 Water Plan projects future water needs for The Woodlands and surrounding areas. To meet the needs of this fast-growing region, the plan relies heavily on conservation – an 18% reduction in the current demand rate. If conservation goals aren’t met, droughts will require more severe water restrictions – an uncomfortable, inconvenient and expensive step best avoided.  

Most of your neighbors are thinking ahead by conserving now. Are you?   

  • Fix leaks inside and out: sprinkler heads, hose connects, and toilets are likely culprits. A running toilet can leak 26 gallons a day! 
  • Put the right amount of water on your lawn. Our St. Augustine lawns only require an inch a week, including rainfall.   
  • Install low-flow showerheads and faucet aerators. One aerator takes only a minute to install and can save 3,000 gallons a year!  
  • Put water only where it’s needed. Check your sprinkler heads regularly to ensure they aren’t spraying your driveway and street.  

Will these measures really make a difference? Yes! An average home uses 120,000 gallons of water a year. In fact, you can meet the 18% conservation goal simply by adopting three simple actions: 

  • Turn off the water when brushing your teeth = 4,000 gallons/yr.  
  • Use an efficient dishwasher vs hand washing = 6,000 gallons/yr. 
  • Fix your leaks (toilets, faucets, appliances) = 7,500 gallons/yr.  

Drought will intensify the pressure on our already strained water supply. Plan ahead and conserve now.  Will you join your neighbors in doing your part? 


Questions or comments? Email enviro@thewoodlandstownship-tx.gov


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Today I Saved A Frog

Never underestimate the power of youth to bring about change. Just because they’re young doesn’t mean they can’t show us older folks how to be environmentally responsible. Kids get it!  

Take the case of the Discovery School of Innovation students who stepped up recently to protect our local streams. A volunteer project installing storm drain markers near their school in Grogan’s Mill piqued their interest; they wanted to learn more, get involved and make a difference. 

Along with the school’s Director, Cathy Sagar, the students started by connecting with a Township environmental educator, diving a little deeper into The Woodlands’ water quality. They studied watersheds and modeled how stormwater carries pollutants from lawns and roads into our local waterways, like Spring Creek. They also grappled with some tough problems. Some people mistake storm drains for trash cans dumping grass clippings, litter, auto fluids and more into storm drains. Unfortunately, everything dumped in the drain is carried directly to a nearby waterway.    

Others fail to pick up after their pets. Pet waste is one of our biggest water quality issues. Dangerously high bacteria levels result when waste is left on the ground. Though it eventually breaks down, harmful bacteria remains, eventually working its way into nearby water bodies, endangering aquatic organisms and humans, alike. 

The good news? Youthful determination prevailed. Understanding that something can be done about these issues, they leapt into action to get the message out: keep our creeks clean!  

Remember how everything felt so certain when you were young? On a crisp December morning, the Discovery students jumped into action, affixing markers that carry the message about pollution in storm drains. As they were finishing their final drain marker, they observed a frog intently observing them.  In that moment, they felt certain the frog was telling them they had done the right thing that day, for him and all the other critters that rely on clean water.

 

But that’s not the end of the story for these young water heroes. Each student committed to picking up litter when they see it and picking up after their pets, too. They bubbled over with enthusiasm to share their new knowledge and commitment with others, continuing to expand their impact.  

Sure, most of the Storm Drain Marker Project volunteers are adults. But none of us, young or old, should take clean water for granted. And let’s not take our action-oriented youth for granted, either. If you see them installing markers or picking up litter, give them a shout out. And consider joining them by  registering to volunteer. Save a frog, a fish, or maybe Spring Creek.  

To learn more contact The Woodlands Township Environmental Services Department at enviro@thewoodlandstownship-tx.gov or 281-210-3800. 

Learn a thing, share a thing!

Looking for an easy way to save lots of water? Properly manage your sprinkler system. It’s a great way to keep your lawn healthy, too. Then share your knowledge with neighbors to multiply your impact.  

Without good information, it’s easy to overwater your lawn. Raise your hand if weeds and pests are staking a little too much claim these days. Does your water bill seem a bit high and you’re not sure why? Have you spent too many mornings hoping the neighbors don’t notice you watered the sidewalk all night? Its ok, you’re not alone.  

Anyone with an automatic sprinkler system has dealt with these issues from time to time. They’re signs that your sprinkler system is due for its regular tune-up. The good news, it’s easy – as long as you have the right information. Even better news, these small fixes result in big water savings. That’s good for the environment, your lawn, and your pocketbook. Double the positive impact by sharing your new-found knowledge with a neighbor.  

Controlling irrigation relies on these simple steps:

  • Check sprinkler heads for misalignment; don’t water the driveway 
  • Set your controller on manual so it doesn’t automatically run, rain or shine 
  • Check and re-set your controller after power outages; don’t water the wrong amount

Step 1: Before you start adjusting things, first determine how much water your lawn needs. St. Augustine lawns require no more than 1” a week (including rain), spring through fall. Woodlands Water Agency makes it easy to gauge your water needs with their weekly Irrigation Recommendation emails. The recommendations are based on real-time scientific data – precipitation and evapotranspiration rates – correlated with the amount of water St. Augustin lawns require. Check the weekly email and adjust your sprinkler system accordingly. It’s that simple. Sign up for your weekly recommendation email here: https://www.woodlandswater.org/ (enter your address under “RECEIVE UPDATES”). 

Step 2: Audit your sprinkler system regularly. Sprinkler systems loosen up and misalign over time. A regular adjustment ensures you’re putting out the right amount of water and putting it where it needs to be – not in the street. It’s easier and quicker than it sounds. The Woodlands Township Environmental Services Department can help! 

Attend a how-to class right from your kitchen table. The Spring Sprinkler Check-up and Audit Class on Saturday, March 13, 2021 from 10 to 11 a.m., demonstrates step-by-step how to assess your sprinkler system and make any needed adjustments. Sprinkler audits take less than 30 minutes once you have the basics down – this class lays them out for you.  

Step 3: Share your knowledge. Put your insights to work by helping a neighbor perform their own audits. You’ll double your water conserving impact. And it will likely grow from there as they share it down the line.  


The Spring Sprinkler Check-Up and Class is FREE, but REGISTRATION is required. Do it now while you’re thinking about it. And why not get a neighbor to join you!

To learn about more Environmental Services classes, workshops, and events, sign up for our BLOG or email enviro@thewoodlandstownship-tx.gov

Are your sprinklers turned OFF for winter?

It’s never too late to save water and get your lawn healthy! And those are only two of the benefits of participating in the annual Water Wise Village Challenge.  

Each year The Woodlands Township Environmental Services Department challenges residents to stop watering their lawn from mid-October through mid-April. Our St. Augustine yards need to go dormant this time of year in order to develop their root systems; it helps them fight off disease and pests the rest of the year. Irrigating during the cool months prevents this.  

Saving water is a big win. Additionally, when residents pledge, their village gets a point in the competition for scholarship funds. Regardless of which villages win, you can’t lose. Take the pledge, save money, save water and have a healthier lawn. There is no downside for this challenge when you promise not to water turfgrass. How about pledging right now before you forget? You can make your pledge online in just about two minutes HERE. Watch for the results to be announced in May.  

For more information visit www.thewoodlandstownship-tx.gov/waterconservation or contact Environmental Services: enviro@thewoodlandstownship-tx.gov or 281-210-3800. 

Online Class Available This Saturday

The Woodlands Township Environmental Services presents 

Smarter Choices Webinar 2020: 

Healthy Landscapes, Healthy Waterways 

Saturday, October 3 | 8 a.m. to noon 

When well managed, your yard provides important ecological benefits such as reducing runoff, providing habitat and filtering stormwater. It’s easier than you may think. This FREE program will show you how. 

You’ll learn about: 

  • The most efficient irrigation methods, plus drip irrigation, smart controllers and sensors  
  • Using captured rainwater for landscape irrigation  
  • Achieving a greener lawn by improving soil health and reducing chemicals 
  • Native plants that thrive with less water  
  • Water efficient turf and native grasses adapted to our climate 

Presentations by

 Zoom format. Free. Registration required. 

Questions or comments? Email enviro@thewoodlandstownship-tx.gov