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Water Utilities Seek Conservation Program Funding

By Erika Aguilar, KUT Reporter

Dallas, TX –

According to the current State Water Plan, 23 percent of Texas water in 2060 will come from water conservation activities. Visitors to the Capitol got a chance to take part in a demonstration Thursday to show how a low-flow toilet can help. By flushing a potato down the toilet.

Toilet Demonstration: "Uh, I'm doing a half flush half flush (TOILET FLUSHING) and it went down. Wow."

Brandon Leister is with the San Antonio Water System. The utility spends about seven million dollars a year on water conservation programs, like a free toilet giveaway to customers.

Brandon Leister: "We can buy them in bulk. Last year we did about 28 thousand fixtures and in doing that you know we got the manufactures to sharpen their pencil and they came to the table with a really good price. So we're actually getting a better price, a better fixture for our customers and saving additional water."

It's taken about 15 years for the utility to break even on the money they've put into water conservation programs. And San Antonio spends the most in the state on water conservation. Denise Hickey is with the North Texas Municipal Water District. Hickey says they're spending a million dollars on a state-generated program to educate consumers about water conservation. It's called "Water IQ" and that buys them two months of public awareness.

Denise Hickey: "We would really urge our legislators to provide so that some of the smaller communities that have more limited budgets would still be able to reach out to their communities and education the wise and efficient use of our most critical resource which is water."

Water utilities want to use the "Water IQ" campaign, but they don't want to have to pay for it by themselves. There are four million dollars on a state budget "wish list" to pay for the campaign. Senator Kip Averitt chairs the Senate Natural Resources committee.

Kip Averitt: "Well,uh, at this late stage in the process, I fear that, the, the state is probably not going to make a contribution on that deal."

I'm Erika Aguilar in Austin.