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Conserving Energy is Fast, Efficient Way to Save Water in Drought-Stricken Texas

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AUSTIN, TX) Decisions about supplying energy and water to Texas’ growing population can no longer be made in isolation from each other, according to The Energy-Water Nexus in Texas, a joint report released today by the University of Texas and Environmental Defense Fund (EDF).

“Failure to consider the links between water and energy could undermine both resources, where constraints in water become constraints in energy, or vice-versa,” said Michael Webber, report co-author and associate director of the University of Texas Center for International Energy & Environmental Policy. “On the other hand, policies that address both energy and water can increase efficiency and reduce costs for Texans.”

“Improving water conservation will reduce power demand, and improving energy efficiency will reduce overall water needs – this is key to stretching finite supplies of both while reducing costs for Texans,” said Amy Hardberger, a report co-author and attorney with the Texas EDF office.

The Energy-Water Nexus in Texas is the first report of its kind to quantify the relationship between electricity generation and water supply in Texas. It analyzes how much water is needed to supply Texans with electricity, including water required for cooling towers and reservoirs at power plants. The report also examines the energy used in supplying and treating water, and includes how climate change could affect both water and power demand and supply reliability.

For example, enough water for more than 3 million people is used in Texas each year to cool the state’s thermoelectric power plants. Enough electricity for about 100,000 people goes to water and wastewater systems each year in Texas.

“With a growing population increasing the strain on both energy and water, we must be careful not to implement policies that benefit one resource while unintentionally undermining the other,” said Hardberger.

“Collaborative planning among state agencies on Texas’ energy and water is absolutely necessary,” said Webber, “and it requires Texas to collect more site-specific data regarding power plants’ water usage and the energy used to treat and distribute water.”

The report makes specific recommendations on how to build a framework for more integrated energy-water planning, including:

  1. Require a study to determine how much water is available for use when siting new fossil-fueled or concentrated solar power plants.
  2. Require proposed power plants to evaluate cooling technology to minimize water use, while considering effects on power plant efficiency.
  3. Provide incentives for implementing power plant cooling technologies that are less water-intensive than traditional systems.
  4. Provide state agency guidance to water suppliers to help quantify energy use and cost savings associated with water conservation.

“Different areas of the state may need different solutions,” Hardberger said. “Some areas of the state are better suited for different types or combinations of cooling technologies depending on how much water is available in the area, and the region’s air quality.”

Learn more at


Natural Resources Committee Hears GEAA’s Top Bill

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The House Natural Resources Committee met yesterday to hear comments about HB 595 and HB 1508, among others. Several GEAA members and supporters came to speak in support of these bills – thank you!

If you’d like to see a recording of yesterday’s hearing, go to the Natural Resource Committee’s archived broadcasts and click on the broadcast listed for 3/17/09, starting at 12:06 pm.

For a list of relevant bills considered at yesterday’s meeting, read below:

HB 595: Leibowitz/Rodriguez – Relating to a restriction on permits authorizing discharges of sewage effluent into any water in the contributing or recharge zone of the San Antonioor Barton Springs segment of the Edwards Aquifer

HB 1508: Bolton – Relating to a restriction on permits authorizing direct discharges of waste or pollutants into water in certain areas associated with the Barton Springs segment of the Edwards Aquifer.

HB 1662: King, Phil- Relating to the availability of certain Upper Trinity GWCD financial information on the district’s internet website.

HB 1664: King, Phil – Relating to an exemption for groundwater used for certain purposes from production fees assessed by the Upper TrinityGWDC

HB 1318: Legler – Relating to the eligibility, service, and removal of persons appointed to the TCEQ

HB 1518: Corte – Relating to the additional f territory to and the amount of production fees imposed by the Trinity Glen Rose GWCD

HB 43: Corte – Relating to permitting requirements of groundwater conservation districts, including permits to transfer water

HB 1992: Martinez Fischer – Relating to the authorization of certain reuse water system contributions and discharges


GEAA Enlists Your Help with Warbler Watch Program

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To help implement the proposed “Warbler Watch” program for the Texas Hill Country, GEAA recently established a partnership with Texas A&M University (TAMU) researchers.

The goal of this collaborative program is to develop and implement a long-term and sustainable monitoring program, which will determine trends in distribution, abundance, habitat use, and breeding success of the GCWA across its breeding range. We propose to integrate with and expand upon comprehensive GCWA studies initiated by TAMU in 2003, which were enlarged to include a range-wide monitoring program during 2008. GEAA would help recruit volunteers and landowners, and distribute related educational materials to a broad public, while TAMU would manage the database, train volunteers, coordinate land access, and publish research results. Because TAMU is a State agency, there is no legal requirement for precise monitoring locations to be publicly available. TAMU is not divulging information gathered to any Federal or State agency, including US Fish and Wildlife, protecting participating landowners from regulatory actions.

Birding checklist data will be gathered by either TAMU researchers or trained volunteers at long-term sampling locations during the GCWA breeding season. A major advantage of the proposed linkage between TAMU researchers and local residents is increased communication among varied groups seeking understanding to promote sustainability through conservation. Local communities will share not only field monitoring tasks and important data, but also a sense of common purpose, with university students and researchers.

Please let me know if you may want to assist with this collaborative effort. We have much of the funding covered, but not all – for our work and TAMU’s work. At this time, we particularly need your help to identify properties available for TAMU to establish additional monitoring sites.

We plan a significant field effort this nesting season which starts mid March, so the sooner we may connect the better. Thanks, Tom

Tom D. Hayes, Ph.D.
Science Director
Greater Edwards Aquifer Alliance


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