Have you ever thought about why Texas has such an iconic shape? It’s because of water! Not one, but three of our state’s boundaries are shaped by bodies of water- the Rio Grande, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Red River. Texans have water to thank for more than just our unique shape, however. Water is at the heart of everything we love about Texas, and it’s our most valuable natural resource. We rely on water for agriculture, technology, recreation, energy, manufacturing, and much more.
Texas’ population is expected to increase by more than 70% between 2020 and 2070. Because of that, we can expect demand for water to increase as our existing water supply continues to decline. Fortunately, Texas has a State Water Plan that identifies thousands of water management strategies to address these water budget needs. The plan also identifies that almost 45% of all future water will need to come from conservation and reuse. For this reason, water leaders have called for a statewide water campaign to address the behavioral and cultural changes needed to achieve our growing water supply needs.
Background on TROW
Texas Runs on Water® (TROW) is a first-of-its-kind statewide water campaign built on Texas’ strong sense of local pride. Led by the Texas Water Foundation, TROW is working to lead Texas into a sustainable water future by inspiring all Texans to reconsider how we use water, and how we value it. TROW encourages all Texans to participate in a viral cultural movement that spurs action and conversation around water.
A Regional Approach
Texas is uniquely diverse, and so are our relationships with water across the state. The TROW campaign is intentionally designed as an umbrella concept that can be localized by region, audience, or water use, with the potential to link water entities, brands, industries, cultural ambassadors, and Texan iconography to water. The state’s thriving economy, wild landscapes, and beloved Texas products and pastimes all exist because of water – denim jeans, tacos, barbecue, and even college football games all Run on Water. Texas Water Foundation hopes that through this campaign, all Texans fully internalize that everything they love about Texas is rooted in water.
Launched in 2021, TROW was piloted in three locations, gaining millions of views in Houston, the Texas Hill Country, and the Panhandle. In the pilot phase, Texas Runs on Water partnered with Houston Public Works to manage and support a “Houston Runs on Water” campaign. The campaign included paid social media, live ads in the Houston Hobby Airport, bilingual ads in grocery stores, a Houstonia magazine partnership, radio, and additional grassroots efforts to reach the entire Houston community. The regional earned nearly 9 million impressions generating increased awareness of the Texas Runs on Water message.
Murals as a Message
Public art can enhance communities by fostering a sense of identity, provoking dialogue, attracting visitors and investment, and improving overall well-being. Murals can reflect the unique character of a place, instilling pride and a deeper connection among residents. Through diverse artistic expressions in public spaces, murals and other art forms challenge norms, broaden perspectives and stimulate the imagination. Public art also contributes to the economic vitality of an area by drawing tourists, supporting local businesses, and creating job opportunities. By embracing public art, communities can cultivate a vibrant, inclusive environment that celebrates creativity and enhances the cultural, social, and economic fabric of the community.
Texas Runs on Water has partnered with like-minded conservation organizations to complete three public art installations in Amarillo, San Antonio, and Junction, that tell the unique story of each region’s relationship with water. These murals have helped TROW engage with the local communities in their pilot markets through planning, painting, and unveiling of the artwork. TROW and partners are working on expanding this program, creating unique public art pieces in additional cities all across Texas. Learn more about each completed mural below:
Where to see it: 800 S Johnson St, Amarillo, TX 79101
What does it mean? This mural represents Amarillo’s positive connections to water- past, present, and future. On one side, it celebrates a region that bloomed because of water. A cowboy tips his hat in the clouds, a cow grazes on a a field of wheat, a windmill is off in the distance.As you move to the right side of the painting, your brought to a more future-focused image. A young girl swims in a playa laketo symbolize the importance of protecting water for future generations.
Where to see it: 1419 Roosevelt Ave, San Antonio, TX 78210
What does it mean? This mural, titled “Yanaguana Rain Dream” pays homage to San Antonio’s water history and the area’s indigenous roots. Inspired by the rock art style found in West Texas, the piece features a depiction of the San Antonio River – known to early indigenous people as Yanaguana – and the inhabitants who relied on that water as they shaped and settled the land. Today, the river continues to shape the city. The artwork is a celebration of San Antonio’s unique ties to water.
Where to see it: 656 Main St, Junction, TX 76849
What does it mean? Junction gets its name because it sits at the confluence of the North and South Llano River. These rivers are the lifeblood of Junction’s community – providing drinking water and outdoor recreation, supporting healthy wildlife and fishing, and sustaining residents’ quality of life. Created by local aspiring artists, the mural depicts the iconic Llano river and celebrates one of the town’s greatest pastimes – fishing. For community members and out-of-towners, it serves as a reminder to protect the beauty of the Hil Country.
Texas Runs on Water leverages the power of social media to educate the community about the importance of water and engage their audience in the promotion of their message: everything we love about Texas runs on water. Social media trends are constantly evolving, and TROW strives to be at the forefront to engage with and reach Texans of diverse backgrounds. As social media platforms have embraced the growing popularity of original video content, TROW has been successful in engaging social media users in Texas and beyond through curated Instagram Reels and TikTok videos.
Giveaways and Campaigns are another popular trend on social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook. To further engage their audience, TROW partnered with the Texas Water Development Board to launch the My Texas Water Photo Campaign to inspire Texans to draw a connection to the water that keeps our state running. The campaign invites all Texans to share photos, reels, stories, or videos on Instagram from past or present experiences that represent their unique ties to Texas water, using the hashtag #MyTexasWater. The annual campaign launched on June 1, 2023 and runs through June 30, 2023.
Texas Runs on Water has also appeared in the immensely popular Texas magazine, Texas Monthly, where they emphasized the future water challenges that Texas faces, and the need for a statewide water conservation campaign to inspire change.
Water is for ALL Texans
Texas Runs on Water is an invitation to all Texans to take pride in the places they live, and in the water that keeps it running. In order to reach all Texans, it’s important to recognize and appreciate the unique connections that each region has with water and engage with each community on a personal and local level. Texas Runs on Water utilizes participation in community events, custom public art installations, social media engagement, and local advertisements to make the connection with local communities and inspire all Texans to reconsider how we use water, how we value it, and how we can ensure that future generations value it, too.