Town of Highland Park, Texas: Assessment of Water Use and Conservation Potential
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The Town of Highland Park (THP), Texas (Figure 1) and the Meadows Center for Water and the Environment at Texas State University (TSU) began a nine-month project on October 1, 2018 to explore water use and conservation potential within the THP. A key component of the project is to have engaged a graduate student “intern” as part of the TSU team. This individual, Ms. Jaime P. Murata, will use the work performed on addressing three of the four project goals as her directed research, a requirement of the Master in Applied Geography (MAGeo) degree program. Dr. Tim Loftus, Ms. Murata’s advisor, will lead the TSU team.
In general, the THP wishes to build on current water-use conservation efforts and by doing so, reduce relatively high per capita water use. A recent investment in automatic meter infrastructure and complementary WaterSmart software positions the THP with state-of-the-art technology to better understand real-time water use, change through time, and potential trends that might emerge among their five meter-class accounts. Information from data analysis will help inform efforts to communicate with ratepayers, tailor conservation measures, and develop and manage a robust water-conservation program.
The project-scope-of-work entails four goals:
- Gather information about Best Management Practices (BMPs) applied to city- and town-owned properties for the purpose of conserving water from the following cities in Texas: Alamo Heights, Irving, Southlake, The Woodlands, West University Place, Westlake, and Westover Hills. Similar information was also gathered from Cary, North Carolina, Santa Fe, New Mexico, and Scottsdale, Arizona;
- Improve the THP score as determined by the Texas Living Waters Project, Texas Water Conservation Scorecard (2016) where the THP did not capture all available points;
- Analyze WaterSmart-derived data to create new information that enables the THP to promote water-use conservation; and
- Explore the extent to which water conservation-oriented curriculum or activities is or can be incorporated in the classrooms of the Highland Park Independent School District (HPISD).
Why is water conservation and the THP stewardship both necessary and important? Everyone lives in a watershed. The bays and estuaries that largely define the Texas Gulf Coast, depend on ample freshwater inflows to protect fragile ecosystems and sustain commercial-fishery and recreational industries that are major components of the Texan identity and economy. Galveston Bay, for example, depends on the Trinity River for ecosystem and economic sustenance. Upstream cities and towns, like the Town of Highland Park, have an obligation, therefore, to support the ecosystem and economic health of Texan bays and estuaries. Thus, the stewardship that is necessary means being very conservative with the water that is used and removed from the life-giving Trinity River Watershed (Figure 2).1