AgriLife publications allude to Texas’ urban landscape water use

September 18, 2013 -  By

Texas A&M AgriLife Research scientists fashioned two free downloadable resources on the amount of water used on urban landscapes in Texas, the benefits of green spaces and other ways to save water.

Authors of the new resources are Kevin Wagner, Ph.D., associate director of the Texas Water Resources Institute(TWRI); Raul Cabrera, Ph.D., associate professor at the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center; and Benjamin Wherley, Ph.D., assistant professor in the department of soil and crop sciences at Texas A&M University.

The first publication, which appears as an article in Vol. 4, No. 2 of the Texas Water Journal, provides an evaluation of urban landscape acreage in Texas and associated water use. Related information can be found in the second resource, an accompanying TWRI informational brochure.

“Addressing the current knowledge gaps and developing practices that significantly enhance water-use efficiency in urban activities, particularly landscape irrigation, is necessary to the Texas economy,” Wagner said. “These materials help empower Texans to continue maintaining landscapes while using water efficiently.”

The Texas Water Journal article, “An Evaluation of Urban Landscape Water Use in Texas” explains how to calculate water use, while the “Urban Landscape Water Use in Texas” brochure is a summary of the article. The latter, Wagner said, is useful to those interested in water conservation education and outreach and complements another publication provided by the institute, “Status and Trends of Irrigated Agriculture in Texas.”

The new publications cover strategies for improved water conservation in urban landscapes, Wagner said, such as water-efficient plants, smart irrigation controllers and alternative water sources for irrigation.

Behind agriculture, the urban-municipal sector is the second largest category of water use in Texas, and landscape irrigation is its largest component, Cabrera said.

For 2011, Cabrera added, the total economic contributions of all green industry activities in Texas were estimated at $17.97 billion, plus $10.7 billion in value added and employment for 200,303 people.

Population growth and drought add further complexity to the management of urban-municipal water use, Wagner said.

“Population growth in Texas, largely in urban areas, is expected to increase 82 percent in the next 50 years. Likewise, demand for municipal water over the same period is also expected to increase by 71.4 percent,” he added.

Wherley echoed his colleagues’ insights, noting the importance of landscapes.

“Landscapes are important components of urban environments and provide an array of economic, environmental, human health and social benefits,” he said. “And to meet the water needs of a growing population, Texas needs innovative strategies.”


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