Texas A&M AgriLife center makes ‘WaterSense’ for Dallas metro area

Public water education event draws more than 800 attendees

DALLAS – More than 800 people from Dallas and surrounding cities attended the recent WaterSense event at the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center, 17360 Coit Road in Dallas.

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Bonnie Reese, professional landscape designer and author of Common Sense Landscaping, gives a presentation on “Water-Wise Landscaping” at the recent WaterSense event at the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center in Dallas. (Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service photo by Karen Sanders)

The event, which was held in conjunction with World Water Day and national “Fix a Leak Week,” was presented in partnership with the City of Dallas Water Utilities and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 6. It highlighted various water education and conservation programs and activities through the center’s Urban Water Program, as well as other water-saving programs and research being conducted at the center.

“The most popular part of this event was the open house tour for the public of our two on-site WaterSense display residences, a house and a multi-family dwelling, both of which are on the center’s grounds,” said Clint Wolfe, urban water program manager for the Dallas center.

As urban water program manager, Wolfe facilitates the activities of a team of water resources professionals at the center to assist with research and outreach programming in the areas of water quality and conservation, as well as watershed planning.

He said the event marked the public grand opening of the center’s WaterSense multi-family structure and gave attendees the opportunity to to tour both that structure and the nearby WaterSense Labeled Home. Both dwellings display a variety of indoor and outdoor water-saving technologies.

According to the EPA, WaterSense is an agency partner program that emphasizes “saving water and protecting the environment by choosing WaterSense labeled products for the home, yard and business, along with taking simple steps to save water each day.” It estimates that WaterSense labeled homes use 40 percent less water than the average home, saving about 50,000 gallons a year for a family of four.

“The home and apartments serve as working models to demonstrate to visitors just how easy water conservation can be,” Wolfe said. “These WaterSense-oriented dwellings provide hands-on learning opportunities in areas such as hot water on-demand systems, water-efficient faucets and fixtures, water- efficient landscaping and irrigation systems, rainwater harvesting and rain garden design.”

He said through this event and many other ongoing center programs, people can learn about readily available technology to help them lower their overall water use, as well as about some simple ‘behavioral’ changes they can make to save water and money.

The WaterSense Labeled Home on the grounds of the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center in Dallas displays water-saving features and technologies. (Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service photo by Karen Sanders)

The WaterSense Labeled Home on the grounds of the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center in Dallas displays indoor an outdoor water-saving features and technologies. (Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service photo by Karen Sanders)

Wolfe said in 2013 the Urban Water Program reached an estimated 50,000 people from the metroplex and surrounding areas through a variety of educational and informational events, including classes, professional trainings, youth events, do-it-yourself rain barrel workshops and WaterSense Labeled Home tours.

“We also have developed strong working relationships with major metropolitan area water providers, including Dallas Water Utilities, Tarrant Regional Water District and North Texas Municipal Water District,” Wolfe said. “These are far-reaching efforts that are successful because we have like-minded community partners working to preserve and extend our water resources.”

Preserving water resources and maximizing water-use efficiency is a major emphasis of the Dallas center’s research and educational programs noted the center’s resident director, Dr. Mike Gould.

“Management of our limited water resources is one of the highest-priority issues affecting urban residents,” Gould said. “We have a number of sustainability-based programs related to water, food, energy and wellness that we hope will have a significant impact on a wide range of urban problems. We are looking into solutions not only for today but also the future, as metropolitan centers continue to grow and limited resources become even more strained.”

Water is part of a larger interdependent system and is also required for food and energy production, he said, so proper management of limited water resources needs to be viewed as part of the larger urban equation.

“The center’s integrated teams of researchers are looking at multiple ways to increase the sustainability of urban life,” Gould said.

He noted that the center’s water programs include lawn and landscape water conservation, resource-efficient landscapes, irrigation system design and management, rainwater harvesting, rain gardens, porous pavements, green roofs and wetlands, protecting urban water sources from erosion and sedimentation, promoting responsible chemical use in urban landscapes, and the use and management of alternate — reclaimed, recycled or poor quality — irrigation water sources for urban landscapes.

For more information on the WaterSense, go to http://www.epa.gov/watersense/.

For more information on the center’s urban water conservation efforts and for water-saving tips, go to the Hot Topics tab, then the Water and Urban Water Program tabs of the Dallas center’s website, http://dallas.tamu.edu/.

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