City of Mesquite
The City of Mesquite has a water conservation program with many best management practices, but its goals for water use reduction and water loss are not ambitious by some measures. The City’s 2015 WCP has selected a “baseline” for current per capita water use that may lower the bar for future conservation efforts.
As of 2014, the City of Mesquite, which is located in eastern Dallas County, estimated its population at over 142,000, and its water utility served approximately 54,000 metered water connections. Mesquite is located in the Region C water planning area and is a member city of the North Texas Municipal Water District (NTMWD), which is the source of the City’s water. NTMWD is a wholesale water supplier not only for Mesquite but for 12 other member cities and a number of customer cities. NTMWD has an extensive water conservation education campaign that benefits the conservation efforts of its member and customer cities, and the District also has produced a model water conservation plan for consideration by those cities.
According to Mesquite’s 2015 WCP, the City’s 5-year (2009-2013) average per capita water use was 122 GPCD, but the WCP notes that for over 800 days during this period the City’s customers were under mandatory watering restrictions due to the implementation of its drought contingency plan. Instead of using the 5-year average, the 2015 WCP uses a baseline of 166 GPCD, which was the water use figure for 2009, described as a year in which “weather patterns and outdoor water use was more typical of total and residential water use.” Depending upon whether one views the 5-year average or the 2009 water use as the appropriate baseline, the 2015 WCP’s GPCD goals for 2019 (141) and for 2024 (132) are either far above recent water use and thus unimpressive or they are very aggressive.
The City of Mesquite has now tried to limit landscape watering with sprinklers or irrigation systems to no more than two times per week year-round (not just during drought conditions), and has posted a very comprehensive “Texas Urban Landscape Guide” (produced by Texas AgriLife) on the City website to educate the public about appropriate landscape choices and practices. In addition, the City prohibits lawn or landscape watering between the hours of 10 AM to 6 PM from April 1 through October 31 and also prohibits watering during precipitation or freeze events. Further the City requires rain or freeze sensors or evaporative transpiration (ET) controllers on all new irrigation systems. These actions should work to help the City reduce per capita water use over the long-term. One aspect of the no-more-than-twice-a-week watering limitation is problematic, however. Customers may choose which two days each week they might water, which makes this outdoor watering “restriction” largely unenforceable.
In its 2015 WCP Mesquite reported that its five-year average water loss rate (and its baseline for setting water loss targets) was 10%. In that context the City’s goal of not exceeding a water loss rate of 12% over the next five to ten years is not aggressive.