BV WaterSmart wins two environmental awards

A Brazos Valley water conservation program, BV WaterSmart, garnered two state awards recently for its water conserving efforts and educational activities toward reducing water waste.

BV WaterSmart received the 2019 Texas Environmental Excellence award for water conservation.

“This is the state’s highest environmental honor recognizing projects for achievements in environmental preservation and protection," said Dr. Ronald Kaiser, BV WaterSmart director and professor in Texas A&M University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. "Gov. Greg Abbott and Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) commissioners jointly selected the winners based on recommendations from a blue-ribbon committee.” 

The program will be recognized at a banquet on May 15 as part of TCEQ’s Environmental Trade Fair and Conference at the Austin Convention Center.

The Water Conservation Advisory Council also awarded BV WaterSmart with a 2019 Municipal Blue Legacy award, which honors programs for enhanced conservation of water.

“Recognition is given to those who have demonstrated an outstanding and innovative commitment to the state’s mission of promoting responsible management of water resources as well as conservation of Texas’ water resources,” Kaiser said. The award was presented on March 13 as part of “Texas Water Day” at the Texas State Capitol.

Since 2010, the program has contributed to a cumulative annual reduction amounting to about two months of College Station’s water use. Today, College Station uses about three percent more water than it did in 2010, while its population has increased by more than 20 percent.

“This program is focused on conserving water by reducing overwatering of lawns and landscapes,” Kaiser said. “We are improving water efficiency by reducing wasteful lawn overwatering.”

The partnership between Texas A&M, the Brazos Valley Groundwater Conservation District (BVGCD) and the City of College Station has led to the collaboration of faculty, staff and graduate students from the university’s water management and hydrological science program, Texas A&M AgriLife Research and the Texas Center for Applied Technology working with the city and district to develop the program.

Targeting outdoor water usage, primarily lawn and irrigation use, the program has focused on educational interventions and creating water budgets for over 15,000 residential customers throughout the Bryan and College Station area, Kaiser said.   

“Residents are provided recommendations during summer months based on evapotranspiration — looking at rainfall or lack of rainfall — and how much water should be applied by the homeowners,” Kaiser said.

BVGCD provided all the major funding for the project, rainfall measuring stations and website, said Alan Day, general manager for the district.

“We now have 17 rainfall stations throughout the Bryan and College Station area, and we can be more precise than only using rainfall data from the weather bureau at the airport,” he said.  

Therefore, BV WaterSmart can use these rainfall stations and tell customers whether or not to water their lawns by how much rain each station has recorded for that week.

Customers may sign up for a weekly update received every Monday through the program’s website, or they may check the site daily for updates, view water recommendations, sign up for the weekly newsletter or request a free irrigation check-up.

Read more about this program in the January 2018 issue of Conservation Matters.

Read the full AgriLife Today article.

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