Focus of Water Conservation Efforts Needed in Horseshoe Bay

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Water conservation efforts by Horseshoe Bay’s Community Services staff involve public education and outreach, landscape irrigation audits, cooperation with outside organizations, and inquiry about new technologies and techniques related to efficient water use.  Some things have come clear during this work which merit attention.

First, the human element is the most important, whether you are operating an irrigation system or simply running a bathroom faucet while brushing your teeth. Water efficient devices mean little if not used properly.

Further, residents must adopt long-term thinking about water. Rainfall will come and go, but population pressure will continue to weigh heavily on our raw water supplies from the Highland Lakes.

Second, landscape irrigation, which is supposed to serve as an efficient way to water our properties, fails to prove efficient when the owners are not knowledgeable or sufficiently engaged in operating their systems.

Consider your behaviors with water use.
Human decisions and actions involving water use are at the center of effective water conservation. Take shorter showers and sweep sidewalks instead of spraying them off. Do not let water run needlessly from bathroom or kitchen faucets between personal hygiene or household tasks. When washing cars or using hoses, employ a self-shutting nozzle which shuts-off the stream when released by the user. If you have an automatic sprinkler system, learn to manage it effectively.

Keep household and business fixtures and appliances up to date
Install low-flow toilets which flush effectively with much less water than models installed in Horseshoe Bay homes in the past. Replace older clothes washers and dryers and dishwashers with newer, high efficiency models which will save you both in water and electricity.  Low flow shower heads and faucet aerators can cut consumption considerably. Again, remember to consider your behaviors.  Installing low-flow and high-efficiency items in your home will not help as much if you use them carelessly.

Take an active role in managing your home or business’s irrigation system
Irrigation consumes more than half the water used by Horseshoe Bay each year. Make sure you understand the operation of your automatic controller. Personally check your timing at least twice a month, and check the stations while they are running every 30 days to look for broken heads and other problems. Do this even if you have an irrigator or lawn person run your system. Under once-weekly watering schedules, please do not double or add excessive time on your allotted watering period to make up for the once-weekly restriction (This behavior erases the conservation value of the once per week schedule). Only allow irrigators licensed by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to work on your system. If you are away from home on extended trips or have a second home elsewhere, have an arrangement with a neighbor or irrigator so they have access to the control box if something goes wrong with the system. Install rain sensors, and consider having the city conduct a free irrigation assessment. To ask about an assessment, call the City at 830-598-9973.

Landscape for dry conditions

Use drought-tolerant, Texas native plants in landscaping your property. Plant less-thirsty grass varieties in your lawn such as Buffalo, Bermuda or Zoysia grasses. Avoid St. Augustine grass. Try not to water excessively, but water your lawn so that grass roots have to go deep to seek water. This will make your lawn better able to withstand periods of water scarcity. To see some of our native plants please visit the City’s demonstration gardens at City Hall.

Employ rainwater harvesting
Rain barrels or tanks using runoff from your home’s roof can collect an impressive amount of water. Rain Barrels can be purchased at ACE Hardware here in Horseshoe Bay, or at Home Depot in Marble Falls. A wide variety of rain harvesting devices made to fit in with their surroundings are available for online orders, as well. However, you will need follow the City’s Ordinance for Rain Harvesting Systems and ensure approval from your Property Owner’s Association for the kind of tank or barrel and its placement.   Also, note that a permit is needed for systems larger than 400 gallons. Residents doing new installations of smaller systems need to fill out a registration form and leave it with the City Water Conservation Inspector.
Additional resources on Rain Harvesting may be found on the City’s Rain Harvesting Page listed under water Conservation on the City’s Website (http://tx-horseshoebay.civicplus.com/400/Rainwater-Harvesting).