One Water and new sustainable water management in Texas
Across the world, the risk and complexity surrounding water management practices are mounting, due to pressures from urban densification, water scarcity and flooding, aging infrastructure, and management systems that do not reflect the true cost of water. To better inform utility planners, the Institute for Sustainable Energy examined approaches to sustainable water management in Texas, where urban populations are growing rapidly, water infrastructure is aging, and climate change is affecting supply. Partnering with New Braunfels Utilities near San Antonio, the Institute for Sustainable Energy (now the Boston University Institute for Global Sustainability) conducted a rigorous assessment of how water demand is impacted by population growth and how the measuring of projected demand can be improved.
Project Objectives and Methods
- The Institute for Sustainable Energy (now the Institute for Global Sustainability) team began with a review of how One Water management practices could be applied broadly to four major cities in Texas. It examined population growth, water sourcing and availability, and current water management practices in each location.
- Based on stakeholder interviews, researchers incorporated case studies to depict opportunities for advancing One Water in the areas of water sourcing, revenue models, and capital sourcing such as green bonds and public-private partnerships.
- The Institute for Sustainable Energy (now the Institute for Global Sustainability) then moved to considerations of how New Braunfels Utilities could implement such a framework, starting with an analysis of how overall water demand is dependent on population growth.
- New Braunfels Utilities had presumed a linear relationship between water demand and population growth and projected a shortfall in water supplies. A comprehensive, statistical analysis accounted for differences in demand growth, as well as more efficient water use, and found that demand growth would be lower than initially anticipated and there was almost no risk of a supply shortfall.
- The Institute for Sustainable Energy (now the Institute for Global Sustainability) also developed a new water utility rate structure for New Braunfels Utilities that balanced considerations of managing total demand with appropriate conservation measures, ensuring the utility’s fiscal health, and maintaining equity for customers.
- The rate proposal was accepted by NBU’s Board in August 2019 and by the City of New Braunfels shortly after. It was implemented in November 2019.
Funded by The Cynthia and George Mitchell Foundation.