League City: City approves water conservation plan


by Hayley Kappes / The Daily News


Posted on November 20, 2010 at 1:07 PM

LEAGUE CITY, Texas — A new water plan will introduce increased rates as a way to discourage residents and businesses from wasting water.

City council members have approved a resolution adopting the plan, which identifies goals for decreasing water use by 5 percent a year.

New increasing block rates will be finalized and implemented in 2012 after the city completes a rate study next year. Officials won’t specify rates until after the study.

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality requires cities to implement increasing rates for greater water consumption.

"Years ago, the more water you used, the less it cost, which promoted waste," Rich Oller, assis-

tant city manager of public works, said. "The state has adopted a water conservation position that you should pay more for the more water you use."

The average single-family residence uses more than 3,000 gallons of water a month, Oller said.

Current residential rates cost $7.13 per 1,000 gallons for the first 3,000 gallons used and $5.90 for each additional 1,000 gallons.

Beside the rate increases, the plan identifies methods of reusing water and moving away from irrigated watering systems.

The city beginning in 2009 started transferring amenity lakes in various subdivisions off irrigation systems. Officials are working on incentives for developers to use rainwater and reusable sources and landscape with plants that can thrive in the local climate.

By 2010, the city will have an ordinance that discourages, if not prohibits, the installation of new irrigation systems, according to the conservation plan.

Private golf courses and Clear Creek Independent School District are the largest irrigators in the city.

Councilman Tim Paulissen opposed the plan because residents who own large lots will have greater water bills by nature.

"Homeowners in Hidden Lakes that have 1 to 5 acre tracts in August and September had $500 water bills," Paulissen said. "This will jump them up to $700. They’re penalized for having big lots."

Cities with similar populations have implemented increased rates for residents and businesses that have high water consumption, Rich Oller, assistant city manager of public works, said.

This has reduced overall volumes of consumption.

The city can amend any portion of the plan at any time as long as it follows Texas Commission for Environmental Quality guidelines.

League City should have submitted the plan to the state more than a year ago, but it got overlooked as the public works department experienced leadership turnover, Oller said.

The city is responsible for educating the public on the need for conserving water, Councilman Mike Barber said.

"We won’t be able to handle our water supply for projected growth the way we’re using water right now," Barber said. "We have to look at ourselves and find ways that waste happens in our own households like leaky toilets."

League City will organize a public awareness campaign to educate residents on reducing water waste.

All major urban areas are faced with water shortages as populations increase. Officials expect League City’s population to exceed 100,000 in the next 20 years.

"Water is truly a treasured commodity," Oller said. "We have to be smart as a community about how we use potable water supplies."

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