water

Water You Drinking? Festivity

Join us for refreshments, activities, a prize drawing and much more as we celebrate Drinking Water Week with our first ever “Water You Drinking? Festivity & Tour”! This fun and educational event is an opportunity to learn “What are you drinking?”— What’s in the water you drink? How does lake water become drinking water? etc. Learn more at “Water You Drinking? Festivity & Tour”.

*** RAIN or SHINE ***

The festivity opens at 3:00 p.m. and concludes as you begin the tour of the Water Treatment Plant at 4:00 p.m. If you only plan to participate in the tour, please note that the tour begins promptly at 4:00 p.m.  Space is limited, please complete the Tour Request Form to reserve your spot today.

Activities:

For questions please contact the Water Plant Superintendent, Brandon Pritchett at bpritchett@roundrocktexas.gov or 512-341-3133.

Drinking Water Week 2019

Water You Drinking? Festivity

Join us for refreshments, activities, a prize drawing and much more as we celebrate Drinking Water Week with our first ever “Water You Drinking? Festivity & Tour”! This fun and educational event is an opportunity to learn “What are you drinking?”— What’s in the water you drink? How does lake water become drinking water? etc. Learn more at “Water You Drinking? Festivity & Tour”.

*** RAIN or SHINE ***

The festivity opens at 3:00 p.m. and concludes as you begin the tour of the Water Treatment Plant at 4:00 p.m. If you only plan to participate in the tour, please note that the tour begins promptly at 4:00 p.m.  Space is limited, please complete the Tour Request Form to reserve your spot today.

Activities:

For questions please contact the Water Plant Superintendent, Brandon Pritchett at bpritchett@roundrocktexas.gov or 512-341-3133.

Drinking Water Week 2019

Drinking Water Week

Come check out our information table full of fun facts and neat giveaways at the Library during Drinking Water Week, May 6-10. This year we are also hosting our first ever “Water You Drinking? Festivity & Tour” on Wednesday 5/8 and Thursday 5/9! Festivity begins at 3:00 p.m. and ends when you begin the Tour at 4:00 p.m. Learn more at Drinking Water Week.

Activities:

  • Water You Drinking Festivity & Tour (Wednesday 5/8 & Thursday 5/9)

  • Information table at the Library all week – Filled with fun facts, water savings tips, conservation programs, cool giveaways and more!

Imagine a Day Without Water

For this blog, I’m going to take a different approach and not talk specifically about conservation, but more about water in general.  The fact that most Americans take water, and the systems that bring it to and from homes and businesses, for granted. We turn on the tap, and safe drinking water reliably comes out. We flush the toilet, and don’t have to think twice about how that wastewater will be taken away and safely treated before it is returned to the environment.

But could you imagine a day without water?  Without safe, reliable water and wastewater service?

A day without water mean no water comes out of your tap to brush your teeth. When you flush the toilet, nothing happens. It means firefighters have no water to put out fires, farmers couldn’t water their crops, and doctors couldn’t wash their hands before they treat patients.

A day without water is nothing short of a crisis.

While unimaginable for most of us, there are communities that have lived without water, without the essential systems that bring water to and from their homes and businesses. The tragedy in Flint, Michigan has dominated news coverage for months. Epic drought in California has dried up ground water sources, causing some residents to relocate because they couldn’t live in a community without water. Overwhelmed wastewater systems have habitually forced beach closures along the Great Lakes because of unsanitary sewer runoff. Flooding and other natural disasters have knocked out water and wastewater service in communities from Texas to South Carolina to West Virginia.

America can do better.

The problems that face our drinking water and wastewater systems are multi-faceted. Systems have been underfunded for too long. The infrastructure is aging and in need of investment, while drought, flooding, and climate change all place extra pressure on our water and wastewater systems. Different regions face different water challenges, so the solutions to strengthen our drinking water and wastewater systems must be locally driven. But reinvestment in our water must be a national priority.

The good news is while the challenges are great, our capacity for innovation is greater.

Investing in our drinking water and wastewater systems, secures a bright and prosperous future for generations to come. We need to invest in our local water systems. Public officials at the local, state, and national level must prioritize investment in water, because no American should ever have to live a day without water.

Public private partnerships play an important role in building the drinking water and wastewater systems of tomorrow. Innovation is driving the water sector, and will allow us to build modern, energy efficient, and environmentally advanced systems that will sustain communities for generations to come.

None of this will be easy work, and nothing can be taken for granted. But water is too essential to ignore the crisis in front of us. We need to prioritize building stronger water and wastewater systems now so no community in America has to imagine living a day without water.

Here in Round Rock, we want to offer you, our residents, a peek into the City’s water infrastructure.  We’re hosting a free tour of the City’s water treatment plant on September 15, 2016, at 5:30pm.  Space is limited.  To sign up for the tour email the Water Plant Manager to reserve a spot and get directions.

We will also have tables at the Round Rock library on September 15th between 10am – 4pm to provide information and goodies about how to keep our water clean, abundant, and healthy.  There will be representatives from the City’s water utility, wastewater utility, water conservation, and stormwater programs available to talk to, ask questions to, and learn more about this resource we can’t live without!

 

My water bill is how much??

I know I have heard this too many times this summer,faucet-with-dollar-sign-234x300 “there’s NO WAY I used this much water!”  “It’s impossible!”  “The meter must be wrong,” or some version of  “the City isn’t really reading the meters, but estimating.”  Well, let me tell you, it IS possible to use a lot of water (I’m talking 30,000 gallons, 50,000 gallons, 70,000 gallons…or more!).  I’ve seen it.  A lot.  I have seen it due to leaks, or from sprinkler systems, but I’ve never seen it from someone stealing water from their neighbor!  (ha!  People say that a lot too.)

I say this with 15 years of experience behind me doing this type of work.  So, not just this year, but over many years of looking
at sprinkler systems and how they are set and reading water meters.  I still get surprised that people are surprised to find out that high water use is possible and the City ISN’T wrong.  We just really use more water than we realize we do, especially when it comes to sprinkler systems.  This really boils down to an education problem.

When we receive our bill, we automatically look at how much we owe, right?!?  I know I do.  That’s what really affects me anyway, how much do I owe the City?  What we really need to look at is what’s included in that final cost AND actually look at the gallons of water that we used.  That will tell you much more than the amount you owe.

On Round Rock’s water bill, what’s also included in that cost (besides the water), is wastewater (sewer) charges, garwater use chartbage and recycling collection, stormwater (or drainage) fees, and taxes.  The water portion of the cost is maybe less than half of what the actual amount is you owe.

Look at that little graph. That shows you the gallons of water your household has used that month, and the past several months.  It’s also under the “water” section of the bill on the back.  That’s a better way to judge how much water you are using each month.  [Of note, a very average amount of water used each month is 2,000 gallons per person, per month.  Again, that’s pretty average.]  If you are using more than that for your family, you may check toil
ets for leaks, or consider replacing any old toilets with new, efficient ones (remember, the City has a rebate for that), and bring your water use down.

Also, the graph should, ideally, be shaped like the one in picture, that’s what we expect to see.  It’s a bell curve:  Low use in the winter, a little higher in spring, peaking–the highest–in summer with the highest month usually August or September, then lower in fall and back to lowest in winter.  That’s a water use curve that is expected and means you are paying attention to the seasons, and the weather patterns and not using water outdoors when not needed (winter).

The water rates will go up, so just looking at the dollar amount isn’t always helpful, or provides any insight to what you’re using.  I challenge you to look at your bill in more detail this month!

 

 

Reclaimed, Reused, Recycled Water…What?

Maybe you’ve heard of at least one of the water types mentioned in the title?  Recycled water… Reclaimed water… Or reuse water.  Are you wondering “What’s the difference between these types ofreuse station waters?  Is there any difference?  And what does that even mean?”

Great news!  I’m going to answer those burning questions now!

Truth be told, they are all really the same thing.  It’s just different ways to call the water from the wastewater treatment plant after it’s been cleaned up.  Normal procedure is that the City cleans up the wastewater (aka sewer water) and then releases it into Brushy Creek so that it can flow downstream, keep the aquatic life alive that is living in the creek, and also be withdrawn by other water users downstream.  (The state has regulations on what “clean” actually means, so it won’t make anyone sick or cause pollution.)

Instead of releasing all the cleaned wastewater into the creek, the City has made the recycled water available in select areas of town for landscape irrigation, at a lower cost than the treated drinking water that is traditionally used to water landscapes.  Some City parks, neighborhoods, and businesses have been using this recycled water for irrigation for a couple of years now!  This is a really good thing, because it means less of our valuable drinking water is being poured on the ground to water the landscape.  This helps with the City’s conservation efforts, by increasing the amount of potable (drinking) water that we have available.reuse tank

The recycled water is only available in certain areas of town (on the east side of I-35), close to where the recycled water line is in the ground.  By the way, the City’s wastewater treatment plant is on the south side of Hwy 79, nearly across the street from the Dell Diamond.  So, the recycled water line is coming out of the plant, under Hwy 79, and travels north through Old Settlers Park up toward University Boulevard.  You can see the large recycled water elevated storage tank off at University Boulevard and Sandy Brook Drive, close to the Texas State University campus.  It has a purple-ish stripe along the top of the tank.  The purple color means it’s not drinking water.

The City also has a new re-use/cycled water fill station at Old Settlers Park, just behind the Dell Diamond.  That’s what you see in the top picture.  This water is available FREE of charge to customers for commercial irrigation, development, or construction use only.  The contractor simply has to have a vehicle to put the water in (like a tank truck) and have the equipment to open the purple fire hydrant and hook up their truck to take the water.

The City envisions that developers and construction crews, or even landscapers, will use this water during new construction to keep the dust down, or water new landscaping, or whatever other use that they would normally use treated drinking water for.  Again, that’s good for our city and for conservation, in that expensive, clean, potable water that isn’t being used for drinking or health or safety purposes (cooking, cleaning), isn’t being wasted.  It essentially extends our drinking water supply, which is a huge necessity in times of drought and with our continued population growth.

Bottled vs. Tap

bottled waterSo I just rummaged around my office’s recycle bin to find any type of water bottle for this blog, and surfaced with three different brands of water.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t too surprised, but have to wonder:  Why would my colleagues be drinking bottled water, when Round Rock has excellent tap water?

Probably for the same reason many people do…

  • It’s easy to buy
  • It’s seems cleaner
  • It’s convenient to carry around a closable bottle
  • It’s healthy
  • It doesn’t taste or smell funny
  • … just guessing here, but I’m sure there are more reasons!

I really just want to address one part of this long-time debate between bottled water versus tap water today, and that’s related to the cost of both of these products.   The more I got into this topic, I think this will turn into a multi-part series on the bottle vs. tap debate!

So looking at purely the purchase price, the cost, what are you getting for the $1.09 that you spend to buy the bottled water?  All three of the bottled waters in my recycle bin are 500mL, which is the same as 16.9 fluid ounces, or approximately 13% of one gallon of water…plus a plastic bottle.  That’s a little pricey for 13% of 1-gallon and a plastic bottle.

When the City (or your water provider) delivers water underground through water mains, directly to your house and out all of your faucets, you are paying $2.42 for 1,000 gallons of water!!!!  That’s $0.002 per gallon of clean water delivered to your property, every day.  Cheap!!dollar_sign_water_bottle

Let’s compare this to other things:

  • $2.05 for 1 gallon of gasoline (maybe not for long!)
  • $16.99 for the cheapest ink cartridge for my printer
  • $14.99 for a 12-pack of Shiner, which is about a gallon of beer
  • $62.00 for 1.7 oz of Calvin Klein Eternity perfume, which is way less than a gallon!

So you can see where I’m going here.  Tap water is an immense valve, priced by the thousands of gallons!  We haven’t even talked about the safety of it and the fact that it doesn’t create the solid waste challenge that the bottled drink industry has.

I encourage you to drink tap water, carry your own bottles, mugs, cups, and refill them!  To find out more about the  bottled vs. tap debate, go to drinktap.org, which is an educational website run by the American Water Works Association, the largest nonprofit, scientific and educational association dedicated to managing and treating water, the world’s most important resource.

A 3rd Grader Got It!

So I spent a morning recently helping judge science fair projescience fair for blogcts at Double File Elementary School, which I love to do, and noticed a particularity relevant project.  As an aside, it’s always really interesting to me to see all the different experiments and how many have to do with popcorn, nail polish, or cokes!  (Too many!)  Anyway, one of the 3rd grade experiments was absolutely amazing!  It was titled “Growing Grass in Drought Conditions.”  I read on, my eagerly wanting to see what the conclusion of the experiment was.

What the project determined was that when watered daily for 4-weeks, grass (started from seed), didn’t grow as tall or as well as grass only watered once per week.  The conclusion, verbatim, was “I discovered that the grass watered once per week grew taller than the grass watered daily.  Based on my experiment, the local watering restrictions of once a week are an ideal amount for the growth of the grass.”

While I was very happy and impressed reading that, I wasn’t surprised.  Watering less frequently, IS much, much better for the lawn than watering daily, or every other day, or every 3 days… The soil needs to dry out between watering events, otherwise the amount of oxygen is greatly reduced in the soil, and in fact, the grass (or other plant) can simply be drown!  Most plants die of too much water, rather than not enough.  Also, if grass, or any other landscape material, is watered daily, or even every other day, it becomes highly dependent on that regular watering and doesn’t bother to grow deep or strong roots.  What’s the point, when water is delivered to it on a regular schedule?  The problem with that is, then, when, restrictions are imposed, the grass or plant gets immediately stressed out because it is now NOT getting that daily water, and of course, it looks horrible and probably dies.  It’s needs to go through routine stress to get those roots to grow, in order to have a strong, drought tolerant plant and can easily survive infrequent watering.

So, when you start watering your lawn again in the spring, I encourage you to just water once per week, if that’s even needed, and wait, watch, and see how your yard responds, before just watering it just because it’s your watering day.  A 3rd grader figured out that was enough water, I bet you will too!

New Year’s Water-lution!

It’s that time of year when we make resolutions about how to improve our lives for thLogo-we're for watere upcoming 12 months!  This year, how about a Water-lution?!  Resolve to save water–it may be easier than losing those “last” 5 pounds!  There are easy ways to save, especially when the WaterSense program can help identify appliances that are water efficient and will maintain their water savings over the years.  Sounds good, right?

When purchasing and installing products with the WaterSense label, you know you’ll get the water savings…unlike all that working out and dieting!  Is that 5 pounds ever going to go away?!?

WaterSense labeled products are backed by independent third party certification and meet EPA’s specifications for water efficiency and performance. So, when you use WaterSense labeled products in your home or business, you can be confident you’ll be saving water without sacrifice.

Also, the City’s toilet replacement program only rebates WaterSense labeled toilets.  Another good reason to look for WaterSense.

By clicking on the We’re for Water logo, you can take a pledge to save water and there’s great tips to get you saving.  It’s easy!  And there’s a money-back guarantee!  Just kidding…this is a free pledge.  (Though you could save money by fixing leaks.)

Happy New Year!

 

 

Shower Smarter

I can’t believe that December is almost over!  I just realized that it’s been a month since I wrote my last blog…time flies!  Well, as you know, it’s winter time, which means it is waste water averaging (WWA) time for the water utility.  showerheadI talked about WWA during my article relating to toilets. To keep with the bathroom theme, I am moving onto showers–showerheads specifically.

Showers are similar to toilets, in that they are used daily and account for about 17% of our daily indoor water use.  Also, like toilets, they are regulated by national and state codes regarding how much water they can use; for showers, it’s rated as gallons of water per minute (gpm), versus toilets, which is gallons per flush (gpf).  Currently, the EPA requires that any and all showerheads sold must use no more than 2.5 gpm.   This has been the law since 2010 and there are plenty of showerheads on the market that use less than this.

I know, low-flow showerheads just don’t sound appealing.  I always think of that old Seinfeld episode where low-flow showerheads are being introduced in Jerry’s apartment building and Kramer is purchasing black-market, elephant washing showerheads that knocks him out of the shower and starts doing everything in there-food preparation, washing dishes…it makes me laugh!  And cringe.

The thing is, showerheads aren’t really “low-flow,” as in low-pressure.  Although they use less water, they simply use the same water pressureshowerhead edited that your house currently has; they don’t change the water pressure.  Us water nerds prefer to call the fixtures “efficient” showerheads, or “water-conserving” showerheads.  Sounds much better than “low-flow”!

I’ll admit, I’ve had my doubts too.  The heads I’ve installed at my house use 1.50 gpm, and honestly, I was skeptical about them and put off installing them for a while.  Finally, for the sake of research and water efficiency, I installed them and was pleasantly surprised–they worked great and have plenty of pressure and water!  And, if you are considering a bathroom remodel that includes multiple showerheads in the same shower, just remember that that doubles or triples the amount of water that is being used per minute, while multiple heads are in use (2.5 x number of heads = total gpm).

If your home is new, you probably already have efficient fixtures.  You can check for yourself just by reading the fine print on the showerhead.  See the middle picture.  Where the red arrow is pointing is where showerheads typically have printed what their gpm is.  The one shown says 1.75 gpm max–meaLogo-WaterSensening the most it’s going to emit is 1.75 gallons per minute.

So, this winter while you are fixing leaks, replacing toilets, and otherwise making your home water efficient to get the lowest WWA possible, think about replacing your showerheads too.  The City is giving away free 1.75 gpm showerheads at the water billing office, while supplies last, or purchase a model of your choosing at any store that sells showerheads or plumbing fixtures.  Don’t forget to look for the WaterSense label, those have been tested and approved as good quality, water saving devices.

Find out more about efficient showerheads at EPA’s WaterSense site.