“Drought, a changing climate and population growth demand that we implement a comprehensive regional plan to protect the quality and supply of our water. Brigid will help provide it... We need Brigid Shea on the commissioners court fighting for a sustainable future.”- David Foster, State Director for Clean Water Action
Central Texas is feeling the impact of the dramatic changes in the weather. And scientific data indicates this region will become even hotter and drier in the future. According to the U.S. Global Change Research Program, the temperatures for our region will be similar to the Sonoran desert in Arizona by the year 2080.
The Lower Colorado River Authority reports that in 2011, the Highland Lakes lost more water to evaporation than the entire city of Austin used in a year. We are losing our water supply. Our drinking water is under threat. As our lakes continue to dry up, we will lose tax revenue and our tax base. We have to be more vigorous about conserving and reusing the water we have.
For 25 years, Brigid has worked extensively on water and environmental issues and will use this knowledge to pursue solutions at the County.
We must revisit our policy on the allocation of water from our lakes. Brigid has already convened a diverse group of environmental leaders and lake area stakeholders to search for common ground. One possible option is to encourage rice farmers to become more self-sufficient by building reservoirs in the rice belt. This could remove the agricultural demand from the Highland lakes, and still allow water for freshwater flows for the bays and estuaries. Our bays and estuaries, essential to life as we know it, are already under threat from the gradual heating up and drying out of the region. Once river flows to the bays and estuaries are choked off, marine life and complex food chains will suffer. Ultimately, Central Texans will be affected.
We must push for more participation in the City of Austin’s Water Reclamation Initiative, or Purple Pipes program (so called because the pipes through which this water runs are purple.) Reclaimed water is wastewater that has been treated and made ready for use by homes and businesses for purposes other than drinking like irrigation, cooling towers, and toilet flushing. Where practical, Brigid will push to have every county facility use reclaimed water for all non-drinking uses. Brigid will investigate all other missed opportunities to conserve water. For instance, why are we allowing condensate from our air conditioning systems to run into our sewers? Why are we not capturing this pure water and recycling it for other uses? Are we using rainwater capture systems wherever possible? As Commissioner, Brigid will provide vigorous leadership for more water conservation, capture and reuse all across the County.