Archive for June 22nd, 2011

Summer has barely set in and the City of Houston has issued stage one conservation measures in the wake of the current drought in Texas:

City of Houston Implements Stage One Water Conservation Measures

Lack of rain and record high temperatures that have plagued 98 percent of the state have made it necessary for the City of Houston to institute Stage One Water Conservation Measures, as outlined in the city’s code.

Houston is asking its residents to limit lawn watering to the hours of 8:00 p.m. and 10:00 a.m. and NO more than two days per week.

Residents are asked to abide by the following schedule:

  • Sundays and Thursdays for customers with even-numbered street addresses
  • Saturdays and Wednesdays for customers with odd-numbered street addresses

The City will also be contacting large commercial water customers to request voluntary reductions in their water consumption.

City departments are instituting a water use reduction program which includes but is not limited to:

  • Reducing water use by 10 percent
  • Implementing corrective measures to eliminate water waste

While the City of Houston currently has adequate water capacity to meet the demands of its customers, the following tips can also help our customers be good water stewards during one of the most severe droughts in Texas history and into the future in a state where water is a precious and finite resource:

  • Keep showers under five minutes
  • Remember to turn water off while brushing your teeth
  • Wash only full loads of dishes or clothes
  • Replace older model showerheads and older faucet aerators with new low-flow ones, and install water conservative toilets
  • Inspect toilets for silent leaks by putting food coloring in the toilet tank. If colored water leaks into the toilet bowl before it is flushed, water is being lost due to a worn flapper.

If you live in Houston and want more information on the city’s water conservation measures, please contact Alvin Wright at [email protected] or call 832.395.2455.

The restrictions are the latest prompt in the series of drought related events and measures ranging from Rick Perry’s plea for divine intervention and the recent decision by the LCRA to extend the debate and final vote to approve a contract giving a water to the poorly planned White Stallion Energy Center.

The issuance by the city emphasizes personal responsibility in the face of questionable water availability and residents throughout the state should consider implementing water saving measures even in times were rain isn’t a distant memory.  Some utility companies offer incentives for installing low-flow systems, and conversion kits continue to get cheaper, so purchasing them at any time could reduce your monthly costs and help out the environment too.

Consider, purchasing a rain barrel to capture water when it does rain.  This can keep your gardening investments more viable in times of drought.  Consider landscaping decisions such as xeriscaping (using drought tolerant plants that need less water even in times when drought is not a consideration, and reduces some of you landscape maintenance), minimizing lawn space in favor of beds for plants or replacing thirstier grasses like the very popular St. Augustine for more drought resistant varieties.

Everyone knows Texas weather is one of the more unpredictable things in the world, so carefully monitoring and rationing water usage at all times is most definitely a good decision.

Read Full Post »

from http://www.flickr.com/photos/rmgimages/4882451468/The Texas Legislature has taken steps to offer more transparency in government this legislative year. As a Texas Tribune article  written by Becca Aaronson points out, lawmakers hope this will provide a lot of information to be available online. However, some people are worried that private information could be leaked to the public because of the recent breaches in security online on the Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services website. Some experts are concerned that with the amount of information being released some private information could become public.

As quoted in the article, Sherri Greenberg, former State Representative and interim director at the Center of Politics and Governance at the LBJ School of Public Affairs, says that “we must be very careful when we talk about personal privacy, security and certain data that should never… be online”.  Public Citizen’s own Andy Wilson was also quoted in the article saying that it should not be a problem to take out the private information and that “it should be fairly simple if it is in the form of a spreadsheet or a database to just simply eliminate those columns of [private] data.” Adding that it is “a technical issue, not a privacy issue”.

Many lawmakers and experts hope that the new bills will help with efficiency as well as transparency. Representative Kirk Watson from Austin thinks that when the information is released, some people will “offer ideas for efficiency in government”. Although lofty thinking by Rep. Watson, the public disclosure laws passed in the Legislature will be a major victory in the fight for good government. It is difficult to predict the ramifications of the new laws, but at least now it is up to the public to determine the outcome.

Read Full Post »