Thomas W. (Tom) Kula
It’s that time of year again – the days are getting warmer and homeowners are turning on their automatic sprinkler systems. It’s also the time of year when I remind my neighbors that their lawns may not need as much water as they think. (I’m sure they’re saying, “Uh-oh… here comes Tom again!”)
Why do I beat this drum every year? Because I know first-hand how challenging it is to manage our water supplies and get it to our region’s homes and businesses. Every day at the North Texas Municipal Water District, we’re fighting to secure new water sources, working to maintain hundreds of miles of pipes, and running thousands of water quality tests to ensure it’s safe for delivery to nearly 90 cities, municipalities, special utility districts, and communities across North Texas.
I also care about helping people manage their water bills. The costs to provide reliable water service are going up across the U.S., and it’s no different in our region where we must build new projects to support some of the fastest-growing cities in the nation, on top of funding critical repairs to older pipes and systems.
During the summer months, water use can more than double due to landscape watering, and it’s estimated that half of that may be wasted. To help our neighbors across North Texas manage water bills this summer, I strongly encourage you to check out the free online tool at www.WaterMyYard.org. Launched by NTMWD and Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service in 2013, the WaterMyYard website takes the guesswork out of how much water your lawn really needs each week.
It is easy to set-up. Go to www.WaterMyYard.org and enter your zip code to choose the weather station near you. Then answer a few questions about your sprinkler system. The WaterMyYard program will automatically compute recent rainfall, humidity, wind and other weather conditions to provide a recommendation on how much water is needed and how long you should run your sprinkler system. Enter your email address and/or cell phone number to set up a free account and receive weekly watering recommendations, either by email or text. It’s that easy!
Most homeowners may not realize they could be over-watering their lawns by running their sprinklers too long, resulting in wasted runoff and higher bills. Don’t trust your automatic sprinkler system to know how much water your lawn needs – if you “set it and forget it,” your sprinklers could turn on when it’s raining or when the soil is already saturated from recent rains.
Spend five minutes today to sign up for WaterMyYard.org and take back control of your summer water use!
Here are other important reminders to help you avoid wasting water this summer:
May 12, 2016
– John F. Kennedy
The topic of change is a common theme in recent discussions as we discuss the future of the District. Our organization will celebrate 60 years of service later this year and the one thing that hasn’t changed is our commitment to providing the highest quality water and most dependable service at the lowest possible cost. Our history of success has been based on our leaders’ ability to adapt and evolve to meet the ever-changing conditions and needs of the region.
We have always listened to those we serve to ensure we make the best decisions and the right changes. Throughout my 20 months as Executive Director, I have continued to work to build relationships with our communities and listen to their ideas for how we can improve the services we provide.
We heard from everyone that one of the biggest issues of 2015 was high water bills. Like many water providers across the country, NTMWD continues to experience significant cost pressures from three key areas:
Our wholesale water rates are lower than other similar providers in our region at only one-quarter of a penny per gallon, yet we are always committed to seeking opportunities to gain efficiencies in our operations, and efforts are underway to re-evaluate the prioritization of our planned capital projects. We’re also working with our cities and communities to increase public understanding about what it takes to continue providing safe and reliable services. We provide essential services, not purely a commodity.
Once again, NTMWD will ask our residents to make changes to their outdoor watering practices. We learned during the drought years that most lawns only need to be watered once per week in the summer and even less in the winter. But when watering restrictions were lifted, some residents resumed pre-drought watering schedules of two or more times per week and were shocked when they received their water bill. With the uncertainty of annual precipitation on top of significant growth in North Texas, we must continue using water wisely and cannot afford to return to excessive watering practices.
One way to manage your water bill this summer is to stick with drought time watering schedules. Sign up at www.WaterMyYard.org for weekly email or text notifications with recommendations on the amount of water your lawn needs based on actual precipitation and conditions in your area. It’s that simple and will help make a huge difference.
Avoiding water waste and reducing water consumption is the best way to lower your summertime water bills. It also goes a long way to help us protect existing water supplies for the next few years until a new major water source is available – the Lower Bois d’Arc Creek Reservoir in Fannin County. If we experience another multi-year drought at the same time we have significant growth in our region, the District may have to resort to emergency drought response measures.
The NTMWD is willing to do what it takes to adapt to changing needs as we continue providing essential services the region has counted on for 60 years. And, with the ongoing support of the communities we serve, together we can and will overcome the challenges ahead.
February 29, 2016