2017 Blue Legacy Award ~ Municipal Winners

City of Lago Vista

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

In 2009, the City of Lago Vista (lagovistatexas.org) determined that 35 percent of the water sent through their distribution system was lost due to poor mixing in ground storage tanks, dead-end water lines, and leaking pipes. A city task force sought an innovative solution to the water loss problem and identified four strategies that, once implemented over a period of years, reduced average water loss to only 12 percent. Switching to fused High Density Polyethylene (HDPE) pipe for all future line installations was a key component to that success. Additional best management practices employed locally include inspection of irrigation systems and using automatic meter reading (AMR) software to detect leaks and keep customers informed. The city also delivers effluent reuse water to the Highland Lakes Golf Course to meet nearly 60 percent of their irrigation needs, which keeps more water in Lake Travis and provides further evidence of the city’s commitment to water conservation.

The city’s utility crew was retrained to use work with the 40 foot sticks of High Density Polyethylene (HDPE) pipe after the city abandoned the use of legacy piping systems. During the last 5 years, the city’s utility crew and qualified subcontractors have installed over 195,000 feet (36.9 miles) of HDPE pipe in Lago Vista ranging in size from ¾inch to 24inch pipe.

New Braunfels Utilities

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

New Braunfels Utilities (www.nbutexas.com/Conservation) created their rain barrel rebate program to encourage customers to conserve treated municipal water by using rainwater for all their outdoor needs instead. The program quickly expanded to include more educational components and soon customers were attending do-it-yourself classes, choosing native plants for their landscapes, and spreading the word about the stormwater mitigation benefits of rainwater harvesting. The utility partnered with numerous local organizations including the community center and junior master gardeners who built a rainwater-fed raised bed garden whose vegetables are donated to the neighborhood food bank. In addition, the annual calendar contest provides a way for customers to showcase and celebrate rainwater harvesting, water conservation, and the beauty that drought-tolerant landscapes provide.

An example of the tools needed for one of the utility's do-it-yourself rain barrel workshops.

City of Mansfield

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

The City of Mansfield (www.mansfieldtexas.gov/water-conservation) devised a multipronged approach to raise awareness about water conservation including developing engaging content, linking water issues to trending topics, and building relationships with unorthodox partners. When the 2011 drought eased, their successful water conservation message evolved into a value of water message and the focus shifted to using water efficiently. The outreach campaign showed the water utility from behind the scenes to inform the public about infrastructure maintenance, water treatment, the source of their water, and the employees that make it all possible. The team also produced a video campaign for National STEM Day to highlight for students how science, technology, engineering, and math are used daily in water utilities. Creative slogans linked to popular culture and social media messaging expanded the audience further and helped the city achieve their water conservation public awareness goals.

The City of Mansfield's Water Jeopardy, receiving the award, and the water olympics with local police officers.

North Texas Municipal Water District

River Authority or Regional Water District

The North Texas Municipal Water District launched the live, in-school Water4Otter program in 2014 to help school children understand the value of water conservation and learn the source of their drinking water. Since then the scope of the program has grown to appeal to an even broader audience through the new website (water4otter.org) and mobile app — a free, fun, and effective interactive game that teaches students to become “Water Spotters” by learning to spot and fix leaks in a virtual home. The program can be easily adapted to message around any water source and community by introducing new animal characters native to those regions. Water4Otter takes the idea of water conservation in a new direction by showcasing how local behavior can impact animals. The district showed that by empowering students, real behavioral change can be accomplished and actual water can be saved.

Screen capture of the Water 4 Otter game where players identify and fix leaks around the home.

Texas Living Waters Project

Innovative Projects

The Texas Water Conservation Scorecard (www.texaswaterconservationscorecard.org) resulted from a collaborative effort by the Texas Living Waters Project partners: Sierra Club, National Wildlife Federation, and Galveston Bay Foundation. This first of its kind public awareness project assessed the conservation efforts of Texas' major water utilities by scoring data from publicly accessible water conservation plans and reports, water loss audits, utility websites, and other sources. The Scorecard highlights where utilities are doing well and where more effort is needed, and it helps them understand what their peers are doing, creating opportunities for professional collaboration. A targeted plan exists to follow up with utilities interested in identifying strategies for increasing their scores and to update the Scorecard annually to highlight those improvements. By focusing public attention on water conservation, the Scorecard has helped generate the support needed by the water managers investing in conservation and waste reduction.

Infographic of Texas Water Conservation Scorecard