City of Odessa
Providing a complete assessment of the current conservation efforts by the City of Odessa is difficult because the water utility’s revised water conservation plan is not due until sometime this year – 2016 (its previous WCP was done in 2011, so Odessa is not on the same schedule as most utilities in revising its WCP). Odessa’s per capita water use has historically been high for a city located in arid West Texas, but the average GPCD during 2009-2013 was significantly lower (about 30 GPCD lower) than that during 2004-2008. Odessa continues to have a high rate of water loss (15% in 2014).
Odessa is located in the Permian Basin and is part of the Region F water planning area. At present the City gets its water supply via a contract with the Colorado River Municipal Water District (CRMWD) – primarily surface water but sometimes augmented by groundwater. Odessa is currently seeking an additional water supply that would be equal to the total amount of water that is delivered to the City by CRMWD (about 16 million gallons a day). The supply Odessa is seeking is groundwater from the Trans-Peco region. The water would come via contract with a private party, Republic Water Company, but thus far that entity has been unable to get a groundwater withdrawal permit from the Middle Pecos Groundwater District.
As of 2013 the City of Odessa was providing almost 5 billion gallons of water a year to its retail customers – with approximately 60% of that water going to single-family residential use, about 11% going to multi-family residential use, about 26% to commercial, and the small remainder going to industrial use. Odessa reported in its 2011 WCP that from its wastewater stream the City supplied reclaimed water for at least two industrial customers and several irrigation customers, including three golf courses and the athletic fields at University of Texas-Permian Basin Park. According to Odessa’s 2013 Utility Profile, peak water use (which in Texas is during summer months) is anywhere from 50% to 79% more than average water use in the City.
Odessa set a ten-year goal in its 2009 WCP of reducing per capita water use at a rate of 0.5% annually from a baseline of 182 total GPCD. There were no changes to that goal when Odessa revised its WCP in 2011. According to the City’s 2013 Utility Profile, Odessa had a five-year average total GPCD of 152 during 2009 through 2013, including a total GPCD of 115 in 2013. If Odessa maintains that level of per capita use, then it will certainly beat its water use reduction goal for 2019. However, the period of 2009 through 2013 included drought periods when the City was implementing its drought contingency plan and restricting outdoor watering, and apparently those restrictions were lifted in 2015. How this may have impacted water use remains to be seen.
For a city in such an arid region, however, it would certainly seem prudent for Odessa to consider establishing some permanent limitations on outdoor landscape watering, just as many cities in North Central Texas have done, with subsequent reductions in water use. Much water is lost to evaporation when lawns and vegetation is watered in the summer months, especially during the heat of the day. While Odessa offers a few tips on outdoor water use (and indoor water use) on its City website, that seems inadequate to prevent water waste.