Dallas Water Utilities
A decade ago Dallas was widely criticized for its high per capita water use at a time when it was aggressively moving to pursue controversial surface water reservoir projects in East Texas. Per capita water use is still high, but it has been reduced. Dallas has steadily expanded its conservation effort, and in 2012 Dallas became the first major Texas city to adopt an ongoing “no-more-than-twice-a-week” outdoor watering limit. Dallas Water Utilities does continue to be challenged in controlling water loss. City leaders are now finalizing a new DWU work plan that could dramatically advance conservation in Dallas.
Dallas Water Utilities (DWU) provides retail water service to approximately 1.25 million people in Dallas and wholesale service that covers well over one million other North Central Texas residents in water planning region C. DWU reported in its 2014 Utility Profile that during 2009-2013 it delivered to retail customers an average of about 67 billion gallons of water annually. On average about 40% was for single-family residential use, 25% for multi-family residential, about 26% to commercial customers, and less than ten percent to industrial operations.
All of the raw water sources for Dallas are surface water sources, including Lakes Ray Hubbard, Lewisville, Ray Roberts, Grapevine, and Tawakokni (via contract with Sabine River Authority), and the Elm Fork of the Trinity River. In addition, DWU has contracts for water from Lake Fork and from Lake Palestine, although these are not fully connected to Dallas at present (DWU and Tarrant Regional Water District are partnering on an Integrated Pipeline to bring Lake Palestine water to the D-FW area). Dallas also has developed a reuse water supply.
As of 2003, according to data in the 2007 State Water Plan, Dallas had a per capita water use of 238 total GPCD. Dallas has made substantial progress in curbing water use since that time, although total GPCD remains high – a baseline of 204 total GPCD according to the 2014 WCP. This 2014 WCP sets a target to reduce that figure to 196 by 2019, although DWU’s 10-year target of 195 in that plan is not ambitious. Dallas also continues to have high water loss in its system – the water loss rate averaged about 15% a year from 2009 through 2013. The 2014 WCP does set a target of reducing that water loss to 10% by 2019.
There are very positive signs of progress overall in DWU’s water conservation efforts. Dallas has dramatically expanded its conservation program over the last decade with a wide array of best management practices, high efficiency toilet vouchers and rebates, a growing and highly professional conservation staff, use of the innovative “Lawn Whisperer” campaign to educate residents on outdoor landscaping, and the limits on outdoor watering, among other highlights. Also, the utility’s water rate structure sends a strong conservation pricing signal.
In April 2016 DWU presented to the Dallas City Council a draft water conservation work plan, a very detailed and sophisticated document, to continue its expansion of water conservation efforts. The plan outlines specific strategies and their costs and estimated impacts on water use, with a full justification for the measures proposed. If adopted, the plan has the potential to accelerate reductions in water use and to make significant progress in curbing water loss.