Hoping the pet waste fairy picks up after your dog?

What’s pet waste have to do with wading in Spring Creek? Let’s break it down: Based on national averages, our community dog population produces about 55,000 pounds of waste per day*. Most of us are diligent about picking up after our pets, but not all. Too many feel someone else will clean it up – maybe the pet waste fairy. 

When dog waste is left behind, the bacteria it contains is washed into the nearest storm drain during rains, flowing to the closest waterway. It empties unfiltered and untreated into our community streams, creating a health hazard for humans enjoying water-based recreation. 

The contaminated water continues to the next stream, river or lake all the way to the coast and the Gulf of Mexico, adding bacteria along the way as it runs through more urban areas. Houston-Galveston Area Council’s 2020 Basin Report indicates that almost 65 percent of Spring Creek is listed as impaired because of high bacteria levels. The primary source is dog waste.

42% of the streams in our region are impaired due to elevated levels of bacteria. For more information, see pages 4 and 8 of the 2020 Basin Report for more details regarding Spring Creek.

According to the Report, in the Houston-Galveston region one of the most significant water quality issues faced is elevated levels of bacteria in our local waterways – indicators of the presence of sewage and pathogens such as infectious bacteria, viruses, and protozoans. High bacterial concentrations may cause gastrointestinal illnesses or skin infections in swimmers or others who come into direct contact with the water. 

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), to comply with the requirements of the Clean Water Act, set the acceptable level of bacteria in waterways as 126 colony forming units (cfu) per deciliter (dL). On average, Spring Creek levels are between 350 and 800 cfu/dL, with the higher numbers during runoff after rainfall. The tributaries within the Township that flow into Spring Creek, Lower Panther Branch Creek, Willow Creek, Bear Branch Creek and Lake Woodlands, are all included on the list of impaired waterways because of bacteria. 

More data on impairment levels of Spring Creek are available courtesy of the Houston-Galveston Area Council

Be a responsible pet owner and don’t wait for the pet waste fairy. Picking up after our dogs and keeping our community clean, means water that’s safe for human recreation and for the aquatic organisms that live in it, and better for the environmental health of our community. 

*Resources: American Veterinary Medicine Association and  www.clearchoicescleanwater.org 


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

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

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

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.

Are you ready to take the next step in serving your community?

Volunteer to help educate others about water conservation!

Residents across The Woodlands Township are seeking help with conserving water. These water heroes may already irrigate wisely, fix leaks quickly, and use low flow devices, but they want to do more. And, they live right in your neighborhood. Perhaps you know who they are; perhaps you are one of them. If that’s the case, how about joining in to help spread the message about water conservation to even more Township residents?

The Woodlands Township Environmental Services Department has launched a new program: The Watershed Project. It’s packed with training and volunteering opportunities.  There are a variety of ways to get involved; participants can choose the ones they are most excited about. Opportunities include:

Water Conservation Education

  • Learn how to conduct a sprinkler system audit and teach others in your area.
  • Staff outreach booths at events, spreading the word about water conservation.

Working with Youth

  • Assist with classroom and field study activities related to water conservation for student groups.
Students learn about aquatic ecosystems during field study activities

Hands-On Tasks

  • Apply storm drain decals to raise awareness of water quality impacts from run-off from lawns and driveways.
  • Learn about invasive plants in our waterways and help remove them.
  • Train to become a water quality monitor, collecting pollution data for the State.

Logistics Help

  • Support classes, workshops and volunteering events by checking in fellow volunteers, handing out materials, or overseeing equipment.

Neighborhood Information Resource

  • Organize educational meetings and other activities for small groups.
Volunteers monitor the health of local waterways

So, you see, being a resident water volunteer can be about more than just saving water in your own home. Increase your impact by helping others to do the same. Ready to get started? Come to our upcoming workshop and learn how to be our next water information resource. 

The Watershed Project kick-off workshop is this Saturday, February 22, at H.A.R.C, 8801 Gosling Road, from 8 a.m. to noon. Register here.


Looking for more ways to save water? Follow the monthly actions above for simple ways to save water all year long

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