Rock Beats

Utilities and Environmental Services recognized for water conservation programs

Utilities and Environmental Services received two Water Conservation and Reuse Practices Excellence Awards from the Texas Section of the American Water Works Association in April. The awards were for the City’s Toilet Rebate Program and the Central Texas Water Efficiency Network.

Toilet Rebate Program
Round Rock’s Toilet Rebate Program offers customers with homes built prior to 1996, a rebate of up to $100 per new ‘water sense’ labeled toilet.  The toilet rebate program was approved initially for the summer of 2010 and has since been offered again in the winter of 2011 and winter of 2012. Rebates are offered seasonally and so far, the program has run out of funds each time within three months of its start date. To date, 553 toilets have been replaced through the rebate program.

The program was promoted by messages on the monthly water bill, articles in the bill stuffer, a news story feature on the local TV channel 10, and articles on the City’s website.

Approximately 8,130 of the Round Rock single-family residences were built prior to 1995-before the plumbing code changes regarding the 1.6 gallon per flush (gpf) toilet. The average year built of the properties that have participated is 1980. Assuming the toilets replaced were the original toilets, that calculates to over 1,383 gallons saved on just one flush! If each toilet is flushed four times a day, that’s over 5,500 gallons per day, which is over 2 million gallons saved a year. This is huge success for a low budgeted effort.

The total rebated amount to our citizens thus far has been $46,000. The program is self-funding, meaning the money used to provide the rebates is revenue generated from the Tier II Water Rates. When the Tier II Water Rate Structure was approved by City Council in FY 08-09, the additional revenue generated was designated for water conservation and reuse programs, so the customers consuming water above the Tier II level (18,000 gallons) are paying for this program.

The toilet rebate program will continue to be offered through 2013. Round Rock water customers are happy about it, thankful for the program, and continue to ask for it when it is not being offered.

Central Texas Water Efficiency Network
The Central Texas Water Efficiency Network (CTWEN) was created in April 2011 after a one-day symposium sponsored by several Central Texas purveyors and suppliers: the Cities of Round Rock, San Marcos, and Cedar Park, Austin Water, the LCRA, the Sierra Club, and the Barton Springs-Edwards Aquifer Authority. These entities funded, staffed, and presented at a one day event in March 2011, called “The Business Case For Water Conservation.” It was a huge success with approximately 200 people in attendance!

Out of that symposium, an “interested party” list was created of about forty folks that wanted to be involved with furthering the cause of water efficiency. The group was created and named after the Water Efficiency Network of North Texas (WENNT), and comprised of water conservation specialists and advocates from various water utilities, municipalities, MUDs, environmental, and non-profit organizations. The CTWEN group held its first meeting in May 2011 and monthly thereafter to openly and actively share information and promote water efficiency education, legislation, programs, technologies, and all other integral components of water conservation in order to regionally have an impact on water supplies and use.

This group is a wonderful source of support and collaboration. In addition to discussing problems and future plans and projects, CTWEN has funded and printed yard signs promoting wise outdoor water use.