2015 Blue Legacy Award ~ Municipal Winners

Retail or Wholesale Water Supplier - Population less than 10,000

With a staff of only six employees, a limited budget, and no legal authority to enact ordinances requiring more responsible water usage, enacting large-scale, sophisticated water conservation programs can be challenging. Despite these circumstances, the efforts of the Fort Davis Water Supply Corporation have led to reduced household water use through free water conservation literature, toilet leak detector kits, and shower flow meters. Staff members provide water conservation themed presentations and tours of their facilities. They recently installed a rainwater harvesting system at their office building, which serves as demonstration for visitors to see just how simple and economical a system can be, then assisted the fire department with installation of a system at the local firehouse. The Fort Davis Water Supply Corporation team prides itself on a very quick leak response rate, with a goal to fix leaks the same day they are detected. The community is quick to report leaks because they know staff will be quick to assess and fix the problem. Clearly, the Fort Davis Water Supply Corporation works diligently to maintain a strong relationship with the public and be a role model and leader in water conservation. They make their limited resources go a long way in the name of water conservation and quality customer service, which together form a powerful combination.

Retail or Wholesale Water Supplier - Population between 10,000 and 50,000

Interstate Municipal Utility District, located just west of downtown Houston, is aggressive in its water conservation efforts. In the past four years, Interstate Municipal Utility District has implemented multiple water conservation programs and outreach for the benefit of its customers including a reference guide of common irrigation issues and recommendations to maximize water savings, detailed water budgets for customers with irrigation systems, thorough design and inspection assistance for district facility irrigation, and a dedicated water conservation web page. They provide a comprehensive landscape and irrigation water conservation manual meant to affect real, measureable outdoor water conservation. The manual includes recommendations intended to influence conceptual site planning, selection of construction materials, characteristics of planting areas, planting design and materials, landscape installation concepts, irrigation materials, irrigation installation concepts, and landscape and irrigation maintenance and management practices. A conservation consultant sits on the board of directors, and the district employs a water manager who monitors all green space irrigation 24 hours a day. The district truly understands and appreciates the importance of leading by example and takes pride in showing its customers and other districts what can be accomplished when addressing outdoor water conservation. By taking these proactive steps, the Interstate Municipal Utility District is helping to ensure an abundant supply of water for all of its constituents to enjoy now and for the future.

Retail or Wholesale Water Supplier - Population between 50,000 and 100,000

The Woodlands Joint Powers Agency (WJPA) is the central management agency for eleven Municipal Utility Districts in Montgomery County and serves about 32,000 mostly residential customer accounts. Facing continued population and commercial growth and a reduction in groundwater supplies, WJPA realized that a comprehensive water conservation program could ensure the water savings needed to meet rising demands. After numerous public meetings and discussions with the local business owners, maintenance contractors, property managers, and other stakeholders over the course of several months, the WJPA instituted the Defined Irrigation Schedule program. It includes a three-pronged approach to reducing excess lawn and landscape irrigation: implementing a block rate structure; enhancing public education and water awareness initiatives; and adopting reasonable regulations for turf grass watering that reduce waste while promoting a strong, drought-tolerant root system. In addition, the Woodlands Irrigation System Evaluation, or W.I.S.E. Guys, program pays licensed and vetted irrigators to thoroughly inspect a homeowner’s irrigation system, provide them with a complete irrigation report, and instruct them on how to properly operate their irrigation controller so it is in compliance with the Defined Irrigation Schedule. Implementation of the Defined Irrigation Schedule program, along with an extensive and ongoing public education and outreach effort, resulted in a residential water savings of approximately 31%, or 1.7 billion gallons of conserved water between 2012 and 2014.

Retail or Wholesale Water Supplier - Population between 100,000 and 500,000

The City of Frisco set out to provide residents with an evidence based educational approach to water conservation with the end goal of encouraging voluntary changes in water use habits. Frisco uses locally obtained weather station data to inform its weekly watering recommendations and provides free irrigation system checkups by licensed irrigation specialists. Frisco also utilizes a “Citizens on Patrol” program, where volunteers provide outreach to the community, including information on current outdoor watering restrictions and water conservation programs, and can report water waste that they witness while patrolling the community. The City of Frisco Water Resources staff also work actively with local scout troops on water conservation and related outreach projects, distributed over 600 rain barrels as part of a water conservation event in the spring of 2014, and work with other city staff to communicate water conservation information through social media outlets. As an active member city with the North Texas Municipal Water District, the North Central Texas Council of Governments Stormwater Task Force, and the Water Efficiency Network of North Texas, Frisco frequently exchanges information about its programs with neighboring cities to work together in regional partnership. As a result of this multifaceted outreach, the water usage in Frisco decreased tremendously from 234 to 148 gallons per person per day between 2009 and 2014.

Retail or Wholesale Water Supplier - Population greater than 500,000

The City of Austin's publicly owned Austin Water Utilitysurveyed their industrial, commercial, and institutional account holders to find out how they could help their customers achieve their water conservation goals, and over 90 percent of respondents asked for help in assessing water efficiency opportunities and in quantifying water savings and associated costs to better inform business decisions. Austin Water Utility launched the Industrial, Commercial, and Institutional Audit Rebate Program in 2013 to provide increased water conservation technical assistance to facility managers and engineers. The rebate program pays customers up to $5,000 for an independent water efficiency audit of their facility if they commit to fixing any controllable leaks and making any necessary equipment or system setting adjustments and recommended repairs. The audit reports must also include other ways to reduce water consumption and discuss the customers’ eligibility for rebates from Austin Water related to efficiency upgrades and purchases. In addition to reducing customer water, wastewater, and energy bills, information from the program has greatly enhanced Austin Water’s understanding of commercial end uses, helped to benchmark commercial use using normalizing factors, and identified areas of greatest potential water savings and the most cost-effective conservation strategies and programs. This innovative approach by Austin Water Utility to cost-effectively achieve the greatest potential water savings by strategically marketing this program to industrial, commercial, and institutional customers serves as a model to other large water suppliers seeking verifiable results in water conservation.

River Authority or Regional Water District

The North Texas Municipal Water District provides water services to 1.6 million residents, promotes water conservation through extensive outreach efforts, and works to maximize the efficient use of existing water supplies. In a collaborative effort with the Irrigation Technology Program of the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, the district sought to educate its customers about efficient outdoor water use rather than just enforcing mandatory watering restrictions. The result is the “Water My Yard” program which uses data collected at seven evapotranspiration weather stations, purchased and installed by the district, combined with the sprinkler system and landscape details provided by the user to create tailor made watering recommendations. Water My Yard employs simple, intuitive images and information prompts and is designed to work on all mobile and desktop platforms. Users simply sign up to have their weekly irrigation recommendations, including applicable watering restrictions, sent via email or text. By incorporating local weather data and homeowner supplied system details, Water My Yard provides users with the information they need to irrigate based on the demands of their landscape, preventing overwatering and helping customers of the North Texas Municipal Water District achieve their water conservation goals.