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ULI Panel: The Future of Water is Serious Business in Texas

Ralph Bivins, Editor, RealtyNewsReport

Ralph Bivins, Editor, RealtyNewsReport

(By Ralph Bivins)

HOUSTON – The “Future of Water” in Texas is a mega-issue that will force the state’s future leaders to spend billions for water resources development in the coming decades as the population booms.

The Texas Legislature voted last year to create a $2 billion fund as seed money to address the issue over the next fifty years. That spending will begin in 2015, said Carlos Rubinstein, chairman of the Texas Water Development Board.

Rubinstein was among the speakers at the “Future of Water in Houston” luncheon Wednesday – an event sponsored by the Urban Land Institute. The ULI luncheon was attended by hundreds of developers, engineers and commercial real estate brokers.

The water conservation and the re-use of water is a key to meeting the vast demand for water in Houston in the decades to come, says Peter Houghton, president of the board at the North Fort Bend Water Authority.

Houghton was among the speakers at the “Future of Water in Houston” luncheon Wednesday – an event sponsored by the Urban Land Institute. The ULI luncheon was attended by hundreds of developers, engineers and commercial real estate brokers.

Using non-potable water for golf courses and community lakes is the “low-hanging fruit” Houghton said, but there needs to be a lot of advancement in extensive recycling of water from sewage treatment plants. Too much of the treated discharge ends up in Galveston Bay, when is could be recycled and used again.

Will Holder, president of Trendmaker Homes, said his firm is advocating rooftop rainwater harvesting and cistern filtration systems and in the rural homes it is building in the Hill Country.

Many homebuyers of the rural homes believe that drilling a well as a water source is ideal, but Holder tells them rainwater from the roof is vastly superior and more reliable.

“I think the cistern is excellent,” Holder said. “It’s a great way to go.”

In traditional master-planned communities near cities, the routine detention pond (a drainage tool that’s typically converted into a visual amenity with fountains) is not necessarily efficient, Holder said. Evaporation from the ponds results in a considerable loss, particularly when fountains spray water into the air, he said.

Commercial developers are making headway in water conservation. Trammell Crow is creating a rainwater collection system at its new office development on the Katy Freeway at North Eldridge, said Brandon Houston of Trammell Crow.

 

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