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Water? Water is Cheap ….

We attended the 6th annual Lone Star Water Forum, Saturday, October 4, 2014 in Brenham, Texas. The next several blog posts will be reporting about the information we heard at this event. Several eye opening points were made by political speakers currently in office here in Texas. When the dots from the speaking points they were making are connected, they paint a precarious picture for inexpensive water resources for the future of Texas. 

We are going to start with a speaker that came later in the conference, but in our humble opinion was the best speaker of the day. He also has a good point of reference on our local water resources and issues since he was a former mayor of Houston. He talked candidly and openly about our water issues here in Texas and made several valid points for consideration. 

“Good stewardship of land leaves open spaces in this state and is important for private property ownership” – Bill White, former mayor of Houston. This is important for sustainability in general. Surface water needs to be preserved and there needs to be respect for historical utilization rights with the end goal being not to deplete this resource completely. A well known fact is that Houston development is growing towards, not away from the Brazos over the next few years. 

He discussed the fact that the Supreme Court of Texas has begged for better rules of capture for water. Water isn’t static — it moves from one place to another both across and underground. Currently, a property owner can drill a well and pump the well of his neighbor dry without any type of repercussion. This has implications for a certain pipeline that is in the works from Burleson to San Antonio. We will discuss this concern in a separate blog post devoted to this issue. 

He pointed out that our 19th century sewer system in a 21st century needs a revamp and that looking at what innovations other countries have in place would be a great start. His landscaping consists of all native plants and grasses only. “Everyone’s lawn doesn’t need to look like a golf course but nor do we need to look like Phoenix, Arizona.” There needs to be a happy medium between the two extremes. 

He made a point to say that Agriculture shouldn’t count solely on groundwater for the future. Industry should return the water the way they found it in his opinion. On taxes for water, he points out that we have a tax for water – your water bill every month. The message is we need to conserve, yet water is cheap which is confusing to say the least. 

He carefully lays out several pieces to the water conservation puzzle. Preserve open spaces from urbanization to allow native plants and wildlife to flourish. Use native plants and grasses in landscaping which conserves water. We need better rules on water capture and ownership. Industry needs to take care of the land they tread on and water rates need to reflect how precious that resource really is. It will be too late when the resource is gone to cry over dry lakes, aquifers and reservoirs. 

All we could think of while we were listening to the speakers at this forum, was how everyone needs some sort of backup water plan in place. What are you doing to preserve water for your family, your land and your needs? Every drop counts even when we are in abundance because it is not an unlimited resource. Look just up the road at Wichita Falls as an example of how limited water can truly become. This is a valid and very real concern for everyone in Texas, not just the Brazos Valley. 

As always, comments and/or questions are always relevant and welcome. 

RainDrop Harvesting Solutions, LLC

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Staggering Amount of Water

Recently we were asked to measure for a local College Station apartment complex for the rainwater harvesting potential. We knew there would be plenty of roof space for harvesting but the sheer amount of water that can be collected was mind blowing, even for us since we work with these numbers every day. 

If we collect from every surface in this apartment complex, one inch of rain harvests 53,181 gallons of rainwater. Unfortunately it will not be feasible to capture from every surface since we have limited space for tanks to hold the water. On average (taken from data from the past 10 years) we have had 35 inches of rain annually in College Station, Texas. This means that we could capture 1.8 million gallons of water from this one apartment complex alone in town. 

This is a staggering amount of water that can be harvested and used for numerous purposes. Landscaping is the first use that comes to mind. Filling pools or fountains to beautify the property is another. Potable water use is also an option for drinking, showering and washing clothes etc. 

It is more of a challenge to retrofit an existing complex, but it can be done. We are going to propose capturing from the roofs nearest the areas the owner would like to see the water be used for since that makes the most sense from an economical standpoint. It seems a shame to waste the rest, but since we simply don’t have an empty lot to put a 50,000 gallon tank on the property, we are faced with doing the best we can with the allotted space. 

It is easier to plan for rainwater harvesting with new construction because you can plan where the tanks and everything will go from the start. Retention ponds and drainage can be placed and set where those can be collection points as well into tanks to reduce evaporation issues. 

I am thrilled to see business owners starting to step up and attempt to at least see what it would cost to increase their green footprint. Food for thought is that maybe one day, in areas of severe drought, water of this magnitude could be harvested not only for use, but to be purchased by the cities for treatment and usage for consumption. 

As always, comments and/or questions are always relevant and welcome. 

RainDrop Harvesting Solutions, LLC

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Last Week’s Rainfall Put Small Dent in Drought Conditions for the Brazos Valley

Recent rainfall in the Brazos Valley has put a small dent in the drought conditions. The graphic below shows the rainfall totals on May 13th for 24 hours as shown on KBTX.com website.

Given these rainfall totals, here is how much rainwater you could have captured, for use during the drier months from this rainfall event, if you have a 1500 sq foot surface to capture from:

Bryan/College Station = (1500 x .623) x 3.36 => 3139.92 or  3140 gallons of rain
Caldwell = (1500 x .623) x 3.45 => 3224.025 or  3224 gallons of rain
Cameron = (1500 x .623) x 2.18 => 2037.21 or  2037 gallons of rain
Conroe = (1500 x .623) x 5.49 => 5130.405 or  5130 gallons of rain
Crockett = (1500 x .623) x 2.88 => 2691.36 or  2691 gallons of rain
Hearne = (1500 x .623) x 2.78 => 2597.91 or  2598 gallons of rain
Huntsville  = (1500 x .623) x 3.80 => 3551.10 or  3551 gallons of rain
Giddings = (1500 x .623) x 3.34 => 3121.23 or  3121 gallons of rain
Madinsonville = (1500 x .623) x 3.80 => 3551.10 or  3551 gallons of rain
Navasota = (1500 x .623) x 3.36 => 3139.92 or  3140 gallons of rain
Trinity = (1500 x .623) x 2.88 => 2691.36 or  2691 gallons of rain

The real winners were:

Brenham = 
(1500 x .623) x 14.50 => 13550.25 or  13550 gallons of rain
Hempstead = (1500 x .623) x 14.50 => 13550.25 or  13550 gallons of rain

We aren’t out of the woods yet with summer fast approaching. According to this article on KBTX.com, the ‘rainfall deficit for the year has been cut from around 7 inches to just 3.37″ …’ Easterwood airport officially received 5.44″ of rainfall up to May 14th. This would bring the total above on a 1500 sq ft roof to 5084 gallons of rain that could have been captured. 

The Bryan/College Station area generally (using the past 10 years as a guideline) getting around 3 inches or more in the wetter months and with July and August being the driest months at 2″ or less, we hopefully will get another 3-4 inches before the hottest months. So you still have time to get a system in to capture any water that falls to use for your lawn, outdoor plants and/or garden, livestock or pets, and even for potable use. 

Rainwater harvesting costs for a system is generally similar to drilling a well with one main advantage. Rainwater is the purest form of water until it hits the ground. So you can have clean water from the start with a harvesting system in place and a few safeguards installed to ensure a trustworthy, clean and sanitary source for water for you and your family. 

As always, comments and/or questions are always relevant and welcome. 

RainDrop Harvesting Solutions, LLC