Two Year Reminder, Water Conservation Plans and Drought Contingency Plans Due May 1, 2019

Jeremy Rice

The Water Conservation Plans and Drought Contingency Plans revisions are required to be submitted to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and Texas Water Development Board by May 1, 2019. It is hard to believe the deadline is just two years away! Many entities in Texas transitioned from their drought plans to their conservation plans following heavy rainfall in 2015. Now is a good opportunity to perform a “lessons learned” review from the implementation of drought triggers, drought measures and permanent watering restrictions. It is also a good chance to review your water conservation plans to decide what programs are working for your community and what new programs you may want to adopt.

Having two years to prepare your plans may seem like more than enough time to meet the regulatory requirements; but if your utility is proactively using your water conservation plan and drought contingency plan, 2017 may be the perfect time to start. We have prepared a potential schedule that shows components you may want to consider as you update your plans.

  • Will you update the plans in house or use a consultant? This depends on the level of changes to be made and whether you want a program analysis of potential water conservation measures or need any reservoir modeling in determining drought triggers.
  • What parts of your plans are working, not working? Perform a review of your existing plans and identify the components that have been working and any that may be causing issues.
  • Do you have the data for the previous 5 years to complete the Utility Profile? Beginning to compile this data early will help when plans are ultimately due.
  • Do you understand your system’s water use patterns? Who is using water, how much water, when is it being used, where is it being used and what is it being used to accomplish. Answering these questions will help you to design conservation programs to meet your community’s needs.
  • Evaluate Potential Best Management Practices (BMP’s). The Water Conservation Council is continuously updating and adding new best management practices ( Performing a review of these BMPs along with the findings from your water use analysis will help to determine which BMPs makes sense for your community.
  • Do your drought triggers and measures work for your suppliers and customers? Understanding the savings from drought measures such as limiting outdoor irrigation and what trigger level is necessary to preserve your supplies through a drought is important. This can be accomplished through supply modeling and statistical analysis.
  • Do you buy from a wholesale supplier or provide water as a wholesale supplier? If so, then extra time may be needed to coordinate with your providers and/or wholesale customer entities in developing their plans.
  • What level of public involvement is needed in the adoption of the plans? The rules for drought contingency plans require an entity to actively inform the public of the drought contingency plan and allow opportunity for public input. If you are trying to get public buy-in on your programs starting the process earlier allows more time to interact with the public.