Thinking About Future Water Security

Preparing for drought

The population of Montgomery County is on the rise. In fact, we’re projected to be one of the fastest growing counties in the nation, doubling in size to 1.4 million by 2050. This growth speaks to the beauty and livability of this area. However, it comes at a cost, particularly the strain it places on our water supply. That strain will maximize during times of drought. Preparing for drought on top of a rapidly expanding population requires us to conserve water now.   

Weather plays a major role in our water supply. Case in point, during the week of April 13, 2020 Montgomery and Harris counties were in “moderate drought” according to the Texas Water Development Board’s Water Weekly post. Subsequent rains improved our status to “abnormally dry” and now to “normal”.  We hope these moderate conditions last forever but history alone tells us they won’t.  Drought is undoubtedly in our future.  

In April 2020, our region transitioned from moderate drought to abnormally dry to normal. Click here for the most recent drought report

The Region H 2021 Water Plan relies on conservation to provide 18% of the water supply during a drought. In other words, simply relying on surface and groundwater leaves us far short in meeting future demands, especially in times of need.

So, let’s make things easier on ourselves and start conserving now: Fix a leak, water your lawn only when needed, install low flow showerheads, and avoid irrigating the driveway and street. 

How much water can you actually save through simple measures like these? First, consider that an average family uses 120,000 gallons of water a year. By turning off the water when brushing your teeth you can save 4,000 gallons a year. Efficient dishwashers save more than 6,000 gallons of water per year compared to hand washing (and use less than half as much energy, too). Leaks (toilets, faucets, appliances) may be the most surprising waste of water, amounting to 18 gallons of water per day, or 7,500 gallons a year. By simply addressing these three factors alone, you’ve nearly reached the 18% of conserved water needed to support the water plan.  

Even though pressures on our water supply will mount, we can take simple measures now to conserve and that will ensure we are prepared. Will you help? 

For more about ways to conserve water at home, follow the latest blogs from Environmental Services by signing up here.

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

Why volunteering works – COMMUNITY!

We have all been staying home and away from our favorite activities, but we remain connected by community – one with deep roots and a rich history of volunteering.

Our forested community was once a dynamic gathering place filled with unique biodiversity. We live in the western-most part of the “Big Thicket,” an area unrivaled in the U.S. for flora and fauna richness. Over the centuries, as the population of the area grew, our community was developed and with that development came change. The number and diversity of species was reduced and non-native, invasive vegetation and animals were introduced, leading to issues like loss of native habitat.

In May 2019, The Woodlands Township Environmental Services Department held a training class for volunteers to help alleviate the damage caused by removing invasive species from our pathways. The response by volunteers was overwhelming!

By December 2019, volunteers had spent more than 500 hours removing a huge amount of invasive vines and other non-native vegetation from green spaces so native plants and trees could thrive again. A record number of volunteers were hard at work in 2020, before the coronavirus pandemic brought a stop to these activities. . When the time is right, these volunteers will be ready to get back to their work and you’re invited to join them!

Volunteers remove invasive, air potato vines from along pathways in The Woodlands

The Invasives Removal Task Force has quickly become an established community group and riding on their success, another volunteer opportunity presented itself for 2020. Growing concerns about our waterways have led to the creation of The Watershed Project. Our community is built around a complicated web of streams, waterways, bayous, ponds and lakes, creating many opportunities for them to be negatively impacted by litter, chemical runoff and invasive species. Being surrounded by so much water also means that there are any opportunities for volunteers to help manage the health of our waterways.

When the new Watershed Project was launched, earlier this year, more than 50 residents signed on to learn how to save water, reduce chemicals in our landscapes and waterways, and offer educational training to neighbors in their community. In the first two months of the year, more than 140 hours of time was recorded in water related training and volunteering. Yes, for now, projects, trainings and community educational outreachhave been postponed but we know it will return stronger than before. And when it’s safe for our community to come together again, we hope you will join us in working to make our outdoor spaces a healthy and vibrant place to call home.

Volunteers for the Watershed Project learn how to determine the turbidity of the water in the stream as part of a water quality monitoring training

To those who have volunteered in the past, THANK YOU! But, if you haven’t found your niche to serve and would like to know about upcoming opportunities, contact Environmental Services at enviro@thewoodlandstownship-tx.gov. You can be a part of the work to keep our community connected and healthy by serving as a volunteer. It works because of YOU.

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


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The kids are home.

Yikes, the water bill will go up!

Many of us are at home now, trying to stay busy and entertained. As we use the extra time for baking cookies, starting a garden, and getting through the laundry, keep in mind these projects use a lot of water, too.  Don’t be shocked by a high water bill as Grandma Gene enjoys a long bath every night and the kids recreate Splash Town in the backyard. What a great time to get the family engaged in simple actions to save water!

  • Games are a great way to learn new information. Water Use It Wisely can keep you entertained for hours with fun games all about saving water. Try your hand at Tank Tip and Save Splash and see how saving water makes everyone a winner.
  • How about a weekly contest to see who does the best job of saving water. Winner gets to choose dinner. Or pick the movie.  Or load the dishwasher that night… oh, wait, maybe that’s not a good prize. But you get the point.
  • Have fun with the Texas Water Development Board’s trivia game on daily water use. Test your knowledge, on the game below, and then test the family’s.
Answer: 27 to 41 gallons
Answer: 1.3 to 7 gallons
Answer: 94 gallons
Answer: 22 gallons
Answer: 6 gallons
Answer: 620 gallons
Answer: 4 gallons
Answer: 1 to 8 gallons

So, how did you do?  8 for 8? Or did you learn something new?

If you’re still curious to know exactly how much water you use around the house and where it all goes, this online water calculator can help. Answer basic questions about your family’s habits and then learn simple actions you can take to save even more water. For instance, did you know that meals with meat require double the amount of water to get to your table than a vegetarian option?

There’s a lot you can learn and share while the kids are home, but above all, enjoy spending time with your family and yes, eventually you will get all those chores done.

Graphics courtesy of the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB). For more water savings ideas to encourage youth to think about the importance of water, enjoy more resources from TWDB here.

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

Fix a Leak Week

It’s a great time to check your home for leaky faucets, showerheads, hose ends, and other pesky places that leaks hide out. Here are some easy ways to check for leaks:

Check your water meter:

  • Turn off everything that uses water in your home.
  • Read your water meter.
  • Wait 15 minutes, and then read the meter again. Did the numbers change? If so, you have a leak somewhere.

Look around:

  • Check that the faucet on the outside of the house is not dripping.
  • Look under sinks in all bathrooms and the kitchen.
  • Do you have a sprinkler system? You may have an underground leak.

If you want help to fix leaks yourself, contact the Environmental Services Department (281-210-3800 or email us) and ask how you can receive a FREE copy of the Practical Plumbing Handbook. It’s full of helpful tips and great illustrations on making repairs and  installing  water saving devices in your home.

For more water saving information or to get your copy of the Practical Plumbing Handbook, contact Teri at tmacarthur@thewoodlandstownship-tx.gov

Drip Irrigation? It’s a Winner!

Automated sprinkler systems are the way to go if you are only watering you lawn. But most of us also have garden and flower beds to add beauty and functionality to our landscapes. This is where drip irrigation systems really shine! Drip out performs sprinkler heads hands-down when it comes to irrigating the parts of your yard that don’t have grass.

A spray head waters from the top down. Most plants don’t like to be watered on the leaves; it can promote the spread of fungal disease. Directing water to the base of the plant makes the water more readily available for uptake by the roots, resulting in healthier plants with less water.

Sprinkler heads supply uneven watering to your garden. Drip lines apply water precisely and reliably. Each part of a drip system can deliver an exact flow rate. It’s easy to match each plant’s needs with the right amount of flow; not too much, not too little.

A study by Colorado State University found that drip irrigation exceeds 90% efficiency. A sprinkler system is between 50-70% efficient at best.

Back to those lawns for just a minute: It’s a good idea to routinely check your sprinkler system. The spray heads require regular adjustments to keep the water where you want it – on the lawn and not the street. Misdirected water from improperly aligned spray heads leads to costly runoff – water wasted. And the setting matters too. Spray that is too fine evaporates faster – as much as 30% can be lost. Be diligent about keeping your sprinkler heads tuned up and efficient.

Still not convinced it’s worth the effort? Converting a spray zone to drip is easier than you think. Most homeowners can set up a full system by themselves with supplies readily available from your local hardware store. If converting the entire yard all at once is too big a project, install it in phases, one zone at a time. Attaching a drip line to a hose faucet makes it even easier. Each of these options will give you healthier plants, waste less water, and lower your water bill.

As a bonus, if you live within the areas of the Township that are served by Woodlands Water Agency (formerly Woodlands Joint Powers Agency – WJPA), you are eligible for a rebate on your drip irrigation purchases. Turn in your receipts to receive up to 50% of the purchase price as a rebate on your next water bill (up to a maximum of $150). Check with WWA for more details on this offer. Now that really is a winner!

If you’re ready to learn how easy it is to install or convert to drip irrigation, we have the class for you! On Saturday, March 7, The Woodlands Township Environmental Services Department presents a workshop on Drip Irrigation at The Woodlands Emergency Training Center, located at 16135 IH-45 South, Conroe 77385. Local Drip Irrigation specialists will explain the advantages, the nuts and bolts f planning and offer hands-on demonstrations of assembling the needed parts to create a drip system for your yard and gardens.

This is always a popular workshop and space is limited. Sign up early to save your seat. Class details and registration available online at www.thewoodlandstownship-tx.gov/environment. For questions, call Environmental Services at 281-210-3800.