The BVWaterSmart program began in 2010 as a collaborative research partnership between the City of College Station Water Services, Texas A&M AgriLife and Brazos Valley Water Conservation District (BVWCD), with the goal of improving residential outdoor water-use efficiency and reducing wasteful landscape overwatering. Residential water use comprises about 70% of annual water consumption in College Station and Bryan – of which about 50% is used outdoors. BVWaterSmart was designed to address wasteful water use issues such as overwatering and inefficient irrigation systems.
Project Description & History
BVWaterSmart operates numerous programs across the region, including:
Weather stations. A network of rainfall and evapotranspiration stations in Brazos county stations are used to compute watering recommendations on the neighborhood scale, which are linked on the website.
Website. In addition to watering recommendations and educational water conservation videos, the site also calculates a monthly water budget based on local climatic conditions that homeowners can compare with their own monthly bill to assess individual water usage. Over 7,500 customers visit the site annually to receive real-time irrigation recommendations.
Personalized weekly watering notifications. A customer enrollment system provides weekly email landscape watering notifications, currently reaching over 500 customers.
Residential water budgets. Budgets determine a baseline amount of water required for landscape areas and establish the efficient use of outdoor water. Water budgets are determined by evapotranspiration rates, neighborhood rainfall, turf and landscape water needs, sprinkler system efficiency, land area, and water amount calculations.
Free residential irrigation system inspections. Since 2010, over 900 College Station homeowners have received inspections of their sprinkler systems. These inspections are based on EPA Water Sense recommendations.
Water conservation seminars. Licensed irrigators and conservation educators have offered seminars since 2015, providing information on water-saving sprinkler repairs and adjustments.
Public service announcements. The District has prepared water conservation PSAs for broadcast on local TV stations, running more frequently during the summer.
Though the population of College Station has grown by 26% since 2010, water consumption remains roughly the same at ~4 billion gallons/year thanks to conservation efforts by BVWaterSmart, representing water savings of over 600 million gallons. Cumulative water use reduction is also associated with energy cost savings of ~$110,000/year. Sampled BVWaterSmart subscribers have successfully reduced their usage from 25% over to 3.5% below the yearly water budget. The methods developed by BVWaterSmart can be easily adapted to assist other water utilities, and achieve water conservation goals in other communities.