2013 Blue Legacy Award ~ Municipal Winners

City of Ft. Worth Water Department

The City of Fort Worth Water Department initiated its SmartWater ICI Audit Program in October 2010, as a conservation strategy to address high consumption among this customer class. SmartWater audits evaluate water use in manufacturing, irrigation, domestic, pools and fountains, as well as cooling towers or chiller systems.  The program’s objective is to assist industrial, commercial and institutional customers identify and troubleshoot areas of inefficiencies. Additionally, it is to educate customers on green, innovative and emerging technologies that can assist in future enhancements.  At the conclusion of the audit, the data is compiled into a final report, which is reviewed with the appropriate staff.  The report identifies how and where water is used, potential water savings, retrofits and technologies, with a cost/benefit analysis.  This report becomes a tool for customers to request equipment, maintenance upgrades or plan for future enhancements or construction projects. The recommendations are not mandatory; however, customers are encouraged to use them as a gauge in planning future upgrades and facility improvements.

Since the program’s inception, approximately 56 audits have been completed.  Customers, who implement any of the recommendations in the final report, are encouraged to apply for the SmartWater Conservation Partner Awards.  These awards celebrate and recognize the commitment toward greater water efficiency.

The City of Fort Worth has utilized several partnerships in order to make this program a success.  First and foremost, is the working relationship with Water Management, Inc.  They have been key to ensure that customers receive quality audits and are left with water saving strategies that are effective and meaningful.  Fort Worth has also been able to spread its program’s success through a cooperative effort with the Fort Worth Business Smart program.  This is a pilot program through the City of Fort Worth’s Green Team which encourages local businesses to engage in sustainable behaviors, including water conservation, energy efficiency, and recycling.  One of the requirements for all participants is to get a water audit, track water usage, and look at historical water use.  The water audit tool is an opportunity for these businesses to really see where their water is going and help them get on track to reduce water usage and water waste.

City of Round Rock Conservation Program

Despite the drought of 2011 and continued dry conditions in 2012, the City of Round Rock knew it had to continue promoting water efficiency and conservation to its residents, especially in outdoor water uses. Outdoor irrigation by automatic irrigation systems is typically the main outdoor water use focused on, but in 2012 Round Rock decided to look at an alternative water source that everyone could take advantage of, rainwater harvesting.  The city decided to go beyond its already existing in house rain barrel sales program and promote a larger one-day rain barrel sale on. The barrels selected for the sale were a 50-gallon barrel, called Ivy, sold through RainWater Innovations for $58 each.

Rain Water Innovations created a dedicated website specifically for the City so that customers could log on and pre-purchase their barrels and find the answers to their questions about installation, maintenance, size, or anything else they needed. City staff actively promoted the upcoming event and the one day event proved to be very successful. The event took place in partnership with efforts from the City of Cedar Park and the Lower Colorado River Authority. Because of the direct partnerships with the other utilities, the rain barrel vendor and the internal advertising and promotional efforts, the cost was very minimal. In a follow-up review of the event city staff found that there continues to be a strong interest in purchasing rain barrels for the intention of conserving water.

City of Georgetown Utility Systems

AquaMessenger is a water conservation tool, created by the City of Georgetown, which helps the City of Georgetown's water customers monitor and control water usage. This is especially important during the hot, dry summers that are so well known in Texas. AquaMessenger utilizes the City’s Automatic Meter Reading (AMR) system and the Electsolv Meter Data Management (MDM) System to monitor and notify customers, through e-mail, when they achieve threshold water usage, such as entry into a higher rate block.

Georgetown customers contact the City Utility Office, providing them with their e-mail address and the three (3) usage thresholds at which they would like to be notified. Most often these coincide with the cost increases in the City’s increasing block rates that are used as a component of the city’s water conservation plan. Once the customer’s address, water meter number, and ERT information are entered into the MDM system, the customer’s water usage is automatically monitored on a daily basis. When the water usage at the customer’s location reaches the first requested consumption threshold, an AquaAlert (email) is sent to the customer (the following morning) via the MDM system, informing them of their usage. At that point, it is up to the customer to decide whether he needs to take steps to curtail usage or not.

A pilot program was conducted for this project to assess the viability of a twice per week irrigation schedule and second, to assess the effect of feedback on customer usage. The benefit seen in the pilot was a 9% reduction in demand, current peak demand of 24.5 MGD,and demand reduction of 2.2 MGD. Estimated debt service on a 2.2 MGD expansion is $161,000 per year and extends current production capability by 2-3 years. There was immediate revenue reduction from reduced demand, plus base revenue increases associated with customer growth over three years and deferred cost of debt service during the same 3 year period.   The City’s AMR system, capable of providing hourly usage information for its customers, yielded the information necessary to determine usage patterns (i.e. which irrigation schedule was in use) and quantified the water conservation achieved. The City was able to use this information to develop a more effective Drought Contingency Plan that would not only result in a demand savings of approximately 9%, but would also provide essential data used to make future adjustments to the City’s Drought Contingency Plan and Water Plan, as conditions and priorities change.

Lower Colorado River Authority

LCRA was the first river authority in Texas to collaborate with wholesale customers to offer incentives at a local retail level.  As a wholesale provider of water, LCRA must work through its wholesale customers to save water at the end-user level.  This incentives program is an extension of an established existing program, which began in the early 1990s when LCRA required water conservation for water contract customers, a first in Texas for a wholesale provider.  
The incentives program is a major component of LCRA’s 2009 water conservation plan. It goes beyond minimum TCEQ 288 rule requirements for wholesale water supplier conservation plans. The program was designed based on detailed customer surveys, an extensive benchmarking effort of other successful water providers and feedback from a Water Conservation Task Force. The task force was composed of LCRA raw water customers, business and development interests and members of the environmental community. 

LCRA’s water conservation program depends on partnerships with LCRA’s wholesale customers because municipal water savings is achieved at the end-user level.  One of LCRA’s main goals in its 2009 water conservation plan was to establish meaningful partnerships to further water conservation efforts.  Since that plan was developed, 14 municipal wholesale customers have partnered with LCRA in its incentives programs. LCRA water conservation incentives programs have conserved an estimated 365 acre-feet of water per year (119 million gallons per year).  Some of those partnership efforts include the following:

  1. Initiating an incentives program with a residential indoor plumbing fixture replacement program that provides free toilet vouchers and showerheads.
  2. Initiating a Commercial, Industrial, and Institutional (CII) program to offer rebates to replace commercial equipment up to a fixed dollar amount or cost per acre-foot saved, based on recommendations from water audits.
  3. Providing irrigation technology rebates to wholesale customer end-users and domestic users if recommended as part of an irrigation evaluation. 
  4. Establishing a wholesale customer cost-share program in the spring of 2012.