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Three thirsty Texas cities are global leaders in water innovation

Austin, El Paso, and San Antonio prepared for growth and drought.

The Austin Central Library, 710 W Cesar Chavez St, Austin, Texas. 

The Austin Central Library was built with energy savings in mind. Solar panels on the roof help power the building throughout the day. Metal scrims on every side but North help filter direct sunlight from flowing directly into the building. The lights inside naturally adjust brighter or darker as the light changes throughout the day.

By Keith Schneider Circle of Blue

Keith Schneider is senior editor and chief correspondent at Circle of Blue. He has reported on the contest for energy, food, and water from six continents.

J. Carl Ganter/Circle of Blue. San Antonio supplies 175 million gallons of drinking water a day and is intently interested in interacting with customers to instill a stronger water conservation ethic in the city.

Evolution in state water planning

Brian Lehmann/Circle of Blue. Demand for water in urban centers is higher than any other sector of the Texas economy. By 2070 the water needs of Texas cities will grow to 8.4 million acre-feet from 5.2 million acre-feet this year. Due to climate change, dryer conditions, and more competition for available supplies, there is no assurance cities will meet that demand unless they use less water.

More innovation, yet uncertain supply

J. Carl Ganter/Circle of Blue. Agriculture and energy are two thirsty sectors in Texas. The latest State Water Plan anticipates welcoming roughly 22 million residents by 2070 warning that water supplies will fall 1.6 million acre-feet annually in 50 years. In short, there will be many more people and considerably less water in 2070.

Texas cities lead in conserving water