Tackling Future Hill Country Water Needs: 'We Can’t Solve The Problem Alone'

“We are looking at starting the summer months, in the Hill Country, with only five inches of rain,” Katherine Romans, Executive Director of the Hill Country Alliance, explained during the opening of the most recent Texas Water Symposium on Wednesday, May 30. As the Hill Country continues to grow at unprecedented rates, the demands on limited water resources will increasingly outpace the current supply. The overpumping of rivers and aquifers will result in reduced spring flow, thus impacting everything from the quality of life to the environment throughout the region.

Many experts in the industry believe that One Water could be the future of water supplies for our region. One Water is a concept of re-imagining how we consider traditional water sources. Much like the techniques that ranchers have practiced for generations, One Water emphasizes slowing, spreading and sinking rainwater in our landscapes. It looks for opportunities to consider all water—including storm water and wastewater—as potential supply in urban areas.

One Water is an approach that looks expansively at how water is used in our communities and encourages collaboration to collectively manage our water supplies. Jennifer Walker, the panel’s moderator, noted that “One Water is an integrated planning and implementation approach to managing finite water resources for long-term resilience and reliability, meeting both community and ecosystem needs.”

Throughout the discussion, it is emphasized how partnerships between different communities lead to important information sharing about what other cities and communities are doing in regards to water management. When discussing the right water for the right use, the panelists agreed that (as an example) using potable water for flushing toilets and watering plants should be a thing of the past.

“All of us are a part of the solution. We can’t, as city leaders, as water supply engineers, as planners, we can’t solve the problem alone. We can set the policy and guidelines but we are all a part of the solution,” stated Clinton Bailey, Asst. City Manager and Director of Public Works and Utilities City of Fredericksburg, during the panel’s closing.

Moderator: 
Jennifer Walker – Senior Program Manager, Texas Living Waters Project

Panelists:

  • Clinton Bailey P.E. – Asst. City Manager / Director of Public Works & Utilities City of Fredericksburg.
  • Susan Parten P.E. – Principal, Community Environmental Services, Inc. 
  • Laura Talley – Director, Planning and Community Development – City of Boerne
  • Tim Proctor – Manager, Laney Development