Benefits of a healthy waterway

“Forested and vegetated waterways provide a multitude of benefits to our air and water quality, flood resilience, our sense of community, and public health” according to Justin Bower, Principal Planner, Community and Environmental Planning, for Houston-Galveston Area Council. He also points out that “everything that happens on the land, including our yards, driveways, roads and open spaces, can wash pollutants and contaminants into our waterways when it rains.” 

Explore the critical benefits of healthy forests, riparian areas (streamside vegetation) and waterways by attending the Smarter About Sustainability Seminar on Saturday, May 14 with Justin Bower. You’ll learn… 

  • How riparian areas are the last line of defense for slowing and filtering stormwater before it reaches the creeks and lakes we depend on.  
  • The direct link between our lawns and landscapes and healthy riparian zones and waterways. 
  • Best landscaping practices for protecting our waters and riparian zones including adding native plants and organic fertilizing.  
  • Opportunities to join community volunteer efforts.  

A body of water with trees around it

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Summer clouds over Bear Branch

We’ll also dive into the damaging effects of invasive species. Ashley Morgan-Olvera, Outreach and Education Director for the Texas Invasive Species Institute at Sam Houston State University, will fill us in on why keeping invasive, and destructive, animals and vegetation out of our community’s forests and stream areas enhances the benefits we gain from these critical ecosystems. Learn how you can make a difference by volunteering with our local Invasives Task Force to help remove invasives from our pathways and public green spaces by attending. 

Smarter About Sustainability Seminar 

Date/Time: Saturday, May 14, 2022 | 9a.m. to noon 

Location: Online 

This is a FREE Seminar. REGISTRATION is required. 

Who plans for Montgomery County’s future water supplies?

We’ve seen the news, we’ve heard the call from the Conroe Economic Development Council , The Woodlands Area Economic Development Partnership, and the East Montgomery County Improvement District, and we can see it with our own eyes—Montgomery County is growing. And fast! In new US Census data, five of the top 10 counties in numeric growth are in Texas, including ours.  

Along with population growth comes a growing water demand.  Additional water supplies will be needed to meet that demand. Most water supply projects have decades-long lead times with local entities making investments years in advance of need. Planning and strategy looks 50-100 years down the road, but we begin acting now to ensure plentiful and cost-effective water long into the future, securing reliable water reserves and creating a strategic plan to manage our most valued resource.  

Water supply planning has been happening in our community for more than 75 years. Created by the Texas Legislature in 1937, the San Jacinto River Authority (SJRA) serves, conserves, and protects the water resources of the San Jacinto River Basin, which includes Montgomery County. One of the many reasons the Texas Legislature created river authorities is to provide a watershed-focused political subdivision with the power to plan for and develop long-term water supplies in partnership with other local political entities, who often do not have the authority or resources to implement plans on their own.  

SJRA considers numerous stakeholders and partners in its ongoing water supply planning efforts including public and private utilities, cities and counties, Municipal Utility Districts (MUD), industry, agriculture, non-governmental organizations, and chambers.  

SJRA planning also includes diversification of water sources.  Utilizing water wells for groundwater, treating and transporting water from Lake Conroe to partners in Montgomery County, and looking for additional strategies are all needed to accommodate the county’s growth.  But, keeping up with growth in a responsible way takes all of us. Find out how you can do your part to preserve and conserve our most valued resource now and long into the future at The Best Water in Texas. 

Why is Drip Irrigation so Popular?

Less water, less work, healthier plants

Drip irrigation is the smarter way to water. It’s the most effective way to deliver water directly to a plant’s root zone, resulting in lusher, healthier plants. No wonder it’s become a revolution in home landscaping. Oh, and you’ll save A LOT of water, time and money, too!

If you haven’t taken a dive into drip yet, perhaps it’s because drip systems seem intimidating – a lot of hoses and connectors and such. That’s understandable. But the reality is, drip systems are simple in concept, something any DIYer can install and manage themselves. All the parts you need can be found at your local home improvement store, an average system can be set up in a couple hours, and the cost is usually recouped in one season of watering.

A few basic fundamentals (like where drip works best), a step-by-step guideline with a parts list, and a few pro tips will have you set up for success. You’ll find all this and more at the …

Drip Irrigation Workshop

Saturday, March 5 9 to 11 a.m.

Online via Zoom

If you’re considering hiring an installer for your new system, we still recommend you attend so you’ll know how to maintain your system and be able to add to it over time if you like.

During the workshop you can visit information booths, ask questions specific to your landscape, and learn how to get a 50% rebate on your drip purchases applied to your Woodlands Water bill. Did you know you can get rebates on native plants, rain barrels, smart water controllers, and rain sensors, too? We’ll show you how.

The workshop is free but registration is required to receive the Zoom link.

  • Date: Saturday, March 5, 2022
  • Location: Online via Zoom
  • Time: 9 to 11 a.m.
  • Presenter: John Taylor, President – Green Industry Solutions

Want a quick preview of how easy it is to convert a sprinkler head to drip? Check out this video.

The Water Wise Village Challenge

Turn off your sprinklers and see the benefits!

Consider all you can accomplish through one simple pledge. The annual Water Wise Village Challenge reminds residents about the many benefits of not watering your grass during winter. By pledging, you’ll not only have a healthier lawn, you’ll save water and help your village earn education funds, too!  

  • Lawn care experts, such as Texas A&M AgriLife’s Turf Specialists, stress that watering during winter (when St Augustine grass goes dormant) and overwatering in general, weakens a lawn’s root system. Weak roots are a siren call for chinch bugs, sod web worms and other damaging insects, disease such as brown patch, and a host of weeds. Protect your lawn’s health by avoiding winter irrigation and limiting warm weather irrigation to one inch a week.   
  • Now consider the water savings. Turning off your sprinklers from October through March will save an average of 20,000 gallons of water. When 500 homes pledge, 10 million gallons are saved! And a lot of money, too.  
  • The villages with the most pledges receive a cash donation from challenge partners, Woodlands Water Agency, Alspaugh’s Ace Hardware and The Woodlands GREEN. Those funds go directly to local youth education.  

Thousands of residents across The Woodlands have taken the pledge, and more than half heard about it from a friend. So, spread the word and help your village come out on top.  

Make your lawn the envy of the neighborhood by supporting education while saving water. Take the first step now and make the pledge. 

Take the Water Wise Village Challenge Pledge at www.thewoodlandstownship-tx.gov/waterconservation  or use scan the QR code below with your phone’s camera. 

Scan this code with your phone’s camera and take the pledge today!

It’s so easy to pledge. Do it every year, and ask a neighbor to sign up, too! 

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According to AgriLife Extension Turfgrass Specialists, Water Wise Texas Home Lawns should rely on: 

  • Watering less frequently – no more than twice a week, but watering deeply to improve drought tolerance 
  • Using a Cycle and Soak method for best soil/water infiltration (water in small amounts over several hours instead of all at once, which results in runoff and water waste) 
  • Turning irrigation off when grass is dormant during the fall and winter.  

Simplify your life by receiving weekly email recommendations on watering from Woodlands Water Agency. Sign up by looking for “Receive Updates” at www.woodlandswater.org and entering your email address. The information is available even if you are not a Woodlands Water customer.  

Bad guys are stealing water from our forests, right before our eyes!

Water thieves are afoot. They sneak in from foreign lands while our heads are turned, multiply their numbers to create trouble-making gangs, and refuse to leave. Who are these villains? Invasive plants – out of place, out of control, and gobbling up resources, including our most precious one, water.

By definition, an invasive species is “a species that is non-native to the ecosystem under consideration and whose introduction causes or is likely to cause economic or environmental harm or harm to human health.” (U.S. Department of the Interior, Federal Invasive Species Advisory Committee) Invasives lack the natural controls that exist in their own native habitat. As a result, they’re usually fast-growing and rapid reproducers. These bad guys alter the forest in a variety of ways including sucking up A LOT of water.

Because of their heavy water consumption and their prevalence, many are concerned that might actually dry out our forests. Is the problem really that bad? According to the 2005 Millennium Ecosystem Assessment Report, “invasive species are altering large portions of the earth’s terrestrial surface and are considered one of the ‘most important drivers of change in ecosystems.'” Although billions of dollars are being spent to battle invasives in the U.S., the report also predicted rapidly increasing negative effects in the future such as loss of soil health as these water thieves drain up to 250% more moisture than our native vegetation.

Before and after photos showing the invasive vine removal efforts of volunteers.

That battle against invasives is fought locally as The Woodlands Township crews and contractors spend about 200 days a year on vine and invasives removal and control. And for the past three years, volunteer invasives removal task force has joined the fray, with much success. During 2020 alone, nearly 100 volunteers spent 1020 hours removing three dump-truck loads of invasive vines, shrubs, and trees from along our pathways. Their participation freed up the Township’s contractors to work on larger areas of infestation.

Some of the worst crimes of bad guy invasives?

  • Disrupting ecosystem interactions and functions

  • Displacing native species and destroying habitat

  • Using 50% to more than 250% more water than natives

Let’s turn the tables and gang up on these water thieves invading our forest! To start, each of us can examine our own landscapes and kick out the bad guys, replacing them with natives that better serve us. Then help restore the health of forest soils by volunteering to remove invasives from our pathways and green spaces. If you’re ready to join the Task Force, sign up HERE.

For more information, contact Environmental Services at enviro@thewoodlandstownship-tx.gov or call 281-210-2058.


Learn more about invasives from these past articles: