Public works department administrators unveiled a 5-year water conservation plan that included several potential future options for reducing water use in Galveston County’s biggest city, including everything from instituting a twice per week limit on how often residents can water their lawns and a toilet replacement program.
The city wasn’t planning to implement these policies, but was exploring all possible long-term conservation efforts, said Jody Hooks, director of the public works department.
The city in recent years had done a good job keeping pace with growing demand for water, according to city leaders. But, like the rest of the state, some are worried about what might happen if the demand one day outpaces the supply.
It was important to discuss steps the city might need to take to conserve more water in the future, Mayor Pat Hallisey said.
“Right now, plenty of water is coming through the Trinity River and getting to us,” Hallisey said. “But 50 years from now, it’s more questionable, because water is a finite resource. We have to prepare for what it might be like 50 years from now.”
Both statewide and in League City, projections have the population doubling over the next 25 years to 50 years, according to the Texas Living Waters Project, a collaboration effort of several state conservation organizations.
For League City in particular, that will mean handling water demands for a city population that could rise above 200,000. League City’s population in January was 106,803, up from about 102,634 at the same time in 2017, officials said.
The city uses an average of about 10 million gallons of water a day, with a peak seasonal high of about 20 million gallons a day, Hooks said. Administrators are negotiating and planning for eventually increasing the capacity up to a total of 45 million gallons a day.
But digging deeper into those numbers shows the city could have room to conserve water in some areas.
“When you think about peak seasonal highs, you’re looking at anywhere from 40 to 50 percent of that being through irrigation,” Hooks said. “During a drought when things turn brown, that can increase water usage.”
Other cities around the state, such as Lubbock, Austin and Fort Worth, among others, have already instituted some form of watering restrictions, Hooks said. It’s important to remember that could include a wide gamut of policies, including seasonal limits, year-round restrictions and voluntary programs.
The state requires cities with more than 5,000 residents to submit conservation plans every five years, Hooks said.
League City’s includes plans to reduce the amount of water lost through leaks from 12 percent down to 11 percent by 2024, and 9 percent in 2029, records show.
The council approved the city’s last water conservation plan in 2014, officials said.
“I do think moving forward, we are taking care of water demands to buildout,” Hallisey said. “There is a plan, and it’s pretty detailed for water conservation.”