Yvonne W. Forrest, Senior Assistant Director
Education and Outreach Program
The Education and Outreach Program is a section of Drinking Water Operations (DWO) Branch, Public Utilities Division, Department of Public Works and Engineering. The education and outreach staff is proud to represent more than 300 City water professionals who produce some of the best quality drinking water in the nation.
Our goals include:
Educating citizens about Houston’s water resources and the City’s commitment to protecting public health by providing our customers with high quality drinking water;
Empowering citizens to use water wisely;
Encouraging citizens to be good water stewards, and to share their water knowledge with others;
Explaining how the City and the public can work together to protect our water resources and ensure an adequate and safe water supply to meet future demands.
Water Education Tools
WaterWorks Education Center – Make plans to visit the WaterWorks Education Center and discover the wonders of water. Opening in early 2010, WaterWorks will serve as a regional clearinghouse and education center for water-related efforts in Texas. Visitors will learn about Houston’s water supply, water science, water treatment and related career opportunities, and how we can ensure adequate water supply for the future. Visitors will travel through each stage of the water treatment process from a water drop’s point of view. Students can climb aboard the “S.S. Lake Houston” and perform water quality tests. Citizens will examine the difference between natural contaminants and other pollutants, and understand how each of us play a role in protecting our water resources.
Water Education Speakers – Do you know where your water comes from and how it gets to and from your home? There is always something new to learn about water and water issues. We provide speakers and educational materials for students and adults at schools, businesses and community meetings. Call 832-395-3790 for more information.
Adopt-an-Esplanade Program – Working to educate wise water use on our green areas, Drinking Water Operations educates about and audits the Houston Parks and Recreation Department's Adopt an Esplanade program. The City may accept the donation of esplanade irrigation systems that meet certain specifications. This effort is designed to manage the water consumption and maintenance of irrigation systems. For more information visit the web site at HPARD Adoption Programs.
Festivals and Special Events - We participate in a variety of local events including Earth Day celebrations, school festivals, and corporate health fairs and other environmentally focused community events.
Proud Partner - The City of Houston's Public Utilites Division, Drinking Water Operations section is a proud partner of the Environmental Protection Agency's WaterSense® Program. Click on this link for more information.
Mayor Annise Parker attended the 2009 Water Festival to congratulate High School Art Contest Winner, Patricia Wells of Jesse Jones High School
The City uses three important criteria in declaring a drought. The first is the amount of water used. The number is in millions of gallons per day (mgd) and an average over the previous three days is used so that a one day temporary spike in water usage does not cause a water shortage to be declared. Stage triggers are based on percentage of total available production capacity, so that 80% is a stage two, 85% stage three, and 90% would result in a stage four.
The second criteria looks at the lake levels to determine how much surface water is available to be treated. Lake levels are calculated in acre feet (ac-ft) which is equal to 325,851 gallons of water. The City's reservoir system can store up to 1,625,000 ac-ft from Lake Livingston, Lake Conroe, and Lake Houston. Engineers have calculated how much water the City needs for 24 months, 18 months, and 12 months. As the reservoir levels reach each of these criteria, a drought trigger may be issue.
The third criteria is related to average water distribution system pressure. Water pressure within the city's treated water distribution system is monitored continuously. There may be isolated areas that may experience pressures at or below the trigger values due to main breaks or high usage. However, this trigger is related to the entire water distribution system pressure not being maintained above 45 psi for stage two, 40 psi for stage three or 35 psi for stage four water shortage declarations.
Things You Can Do to Help
While the City of Houston Public Works and Engineering Department has adequate water capacity to meet the demands of its customers, the following tips can also help our customers be good water stewards during one of the most severe droughts in Texas history.
The Public Works Department website continues to encourage residents to use water wisely, which will reduce the large demand on our water system. Using water wisely can not only save water, but also reduce water bills.
The City requests residents limit irrigation to the hours between 12:01 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. or between 8:00 p.m. and midnight on NO more than two days per week.
Residents are asked to abide by the following schedule:
- A. Sundays and Thursdays for customers with even-numbered street addresses
- B. Saturdays and Wednesdays for customers with odd-numbered street addresses
- *Keep showers under five minutes
- *Remember to turn water off while brushing your teeth
- *Wash only full loads of dishes or clothes
- *Replace older model showerheads and older faucet aerators with new low-flow ones and install water conservative toilets
- *Inspect toilets for silent leaks by putting food coloring in the toilet tank. If colored water leaks into the toilet bowl before it is flushed, water is being lost due to a worn flapper.
Links of Interest
The following links will give some additional tips on how you can save water.
Take Care of Texas – The TCEQ has put together some conservation tips that may prove helpful in your efforts to conserve water.
WaterSense – The EPA WaterSense program website has numerous tips on how you can save water.
National Geographic – The National Geographic provides a water footprint calculator and other water saving tips.
H2O Conserve - H2O Conserve is an online source of tools and information that enable individuals to make water conservation part of their everyday lives. It contains a great resource for calculating your water footprint.
Water Conservation Web Resources
Knowing how to protect our most precious resource, water, is something we all should be concerned about. Our efforts today will ensure we have clean water sources for the future. Past government leaders have secured water rights for our use for decades to come, but it's up to us to make sure we keep that water clean and free from harmful pollutants. The City of Houston Department of Public Works and Engineering, Public Utilities Division believes that an informed public creates active partners in our overall goal of conservation and wise water use. Click Here for Water Conservation web resources.
LAKE HOUSTON TRASH BASH - Each March, we coordinate the Lake Houston Trash Bash and partner with hundreds of volunteers and local business to remove debris from Lake Houston, one of our primary sources for drinking water. Visit www.trashbash.org, or click on the image below for previous Trash Bash details.
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