Drought, outdoor landscaping, and the benefit of being a bit wasteful

Water conservation poses a dilemma.

Let’s say you’re an American city that’s running into a serious drought problem. I don’t know, say for example you’re Galveston, Texas:

Authorities have banned outdoor watering in most Galveston County municipalities as Texas continues to grapple with its record drought.

In a letter this week, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality instructed municipalities that draw water from the Brazos River Basin to enforce stricter limits on outdoor water use. The Brazos River Basin supplies water to the Gulf Coast Water Authority, which serves the cities of Galveston, Texas City, League City, La Marque and Hitchcock.

This is good, right? Serious problem, tough response.

Now let’s suppose that our hypothetical Galveston had been really effective over the years in conserving water, switching to outdoor landscaping that only needs the rain that falls from the sky. Suddenly, when drought hits, the community no longer has the wiggle room left by profligate outdoor landscaping. They’ve got nothing left to cut.

So good for you, Galveston, for being so wasteful. That left you with an “out” this year!


  1. So, I’m sure you know the answers better than I do, but even as a kid (far, ponds, cisterns),either you pay for enough extra storage capacity to get you through the droughts you expect , or you don’t, and then it gets bad. You can either waste more water and pay more, or waste less and pay less.

    Of course, I’d guess Galveston will have more than enough water (albeit salty) sooner or later.

  2. Yeah, Galveston has some long term sustainability issues involving sea level. Maybe it make sense to live high on the hog now, then just bail.

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