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INDEXES: The Texas Observer is indexed in Access: The Supplementary Index to Periodicals; Texas Index and, for the years 1954 through 1981,The Texas Observer Index. entire contents copyrighted, 1994, is published biweekly except for a three-week interval 477-0746. [email protected] . Second-class postage paid at Austin, Texas. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to THE TEXAS OBSERVER, 307 West 7th Street, Austin, Texas 78701, Splash Zone This letter is in reference to your article, “Wet Dreams” [TO 9/2/94]. A central theme of your article is that both sides of the water controversy in San Antonio and the surrounding area share the view that “San Antonio’s salvation lay in the maintenance of an endless stream of inexpensive water.” Further, that growth and its attendant problems were never discussed in the Applewhite debate because “to do so would have compelled both sides to confront the issue of conservation.” You also say that “Applewhite supporters avoided the use of the word ‘conservation’ and that it [“conservation”] appears only once in the “2050 Plan.” In reality, the term “conservation” and extensive discussion about conservation appear at least seven times in the “2050 Plan.” But who’s counting? It’s not the quantity but the quality of the discussion that counts. The 2050 Committee and the San of Trustees all have adopted a plan containing a goal for water conservation. Simply stated, the goal for water conservation for San Antonio is: Conservation is to be treated as a source of water, with a goal of reducing total regional water demand by the year 2000. The specific goal is to achieve a percapita usage rate of 140 gallons per person Water Conservation and Reuse Plan, November 1993 and pg. 9, Report of the 2050 Water Resources Committee, May 1994]. To the 2050 Committee, while perhaps understated, significant efforts in conservation were simply a given, to be accomplished at a not inconsiderable sacrifice. In the past several years, SAWS and the San Antonio area have accomplished a significant reduction in per capita water use, reducing usage from more than 200 GPCD in 1984 to 160 GPCD at the present. This has been done through water-use ordinances \(low-flush toilets and lawn waterand education. The savings are real. Even during the hot, dry years of 1993 and 1994, per capita usage rates have not gone above 160 GPCD. The current water conservation plans build upon this success. The approved SAWS Conservation Plan has two major elements. The implementation of strategies that emphasize structural, permanent changes to water use patterns by toilet rebates, landscape conversion rebates, public housing retrofits and wastewater reuse programs. Another significant element of the plan is the use of increasing block water rates as a part of the conservation program as well as the funding source for the other elements. A portion of the revenues from the last tier of the water rate structure, called the conservation rate, will be used to fund the conservation programs. This rate structure went into effect June 16, 1994. Preliminary analyses of water-use patterns before and after the effective date of the rates indicate that the higher rates have achieved a reduction in water use of approximately 10 percent to 20 percent. The early indications are that the rate structure is meeting the goals for reducing water use in a significant way. It is interesting to note that an analysis of the water conservation plan prepared for the Sierra Club concluded that the conservation goal of 140 GPCD was too low. The Sierra Club recommended a higher per capita level for planning so that more surface water would be required [pg. 9, An Analysis of Water Supply Alternatives for the Edwards Aquifer Region, August 1994]. In summary, a careful analysis of the “2050 Plan” would have demonstrated that the plan was more about management of the current water supply rather than the development of additional alternatives. Various opponents to the “2050 Plan” would have the region building reservoirs all along the pristine streams of the hill country or along the wooded bottom lands of the Guadalupe River with more and bigger pipelines. All of this may some day be necessary, but only if the current plans of SAWS are not pursued. Thomas P. Fox, P.E., Director, Conservation, Reuse and Community Programs, San Antonio cc: Ronald K. Calgard, President, Trinity University. Miller responds Mea culpa. Thomas Fox is a better counter than I, and I’m pleased to know that the word “conservation” appears not once but seven times in the 54-page Report of the 2050 Water Resources Committee; in many of those references, however, “conservation” acts as a modifier, and not as an essential element in a sustained analysis of the word’s meaning and significance. Still, why quibble: I’m grateful for the out Fox provides, that it’s “not the quantity but the quality of the discussion that counts.” Indeed. But discussions about that “qual Continued on pg. 7 DIALOGUE 2 SEPTEMBER 30, 1994
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