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State, City Leaders Calling For Increased Water Conservation

Updated: Tuesday, June 17 2014, 06:37 PM CDT

Moderate to extreme drought conditions has state and city leaders calling for conservation louder than ever.

Agricultural Commissioner Todd Staples, Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell and State Senator Kirk Watson challenged Texans on Tuesday to use water more efficiently.

In Austin saving water could sink the bottom line. Right now lake Travis is only 39 percent full.

Leffingwell admits Austin is in a water crisis, but the city prepared for the worst before conserving water was cool.

"Even back then outdoor irrigation was limited to two days a week. We are now in stage two where we are one day a week because the reduction in lake levels," said Leffingwell.

And it's not just homeowners. Leffingwell says everyone is pitching in, including dentists.

"When it came to buy new stuff they had to buy water efficient kinds," he said.

The state has even passed measures so xeriscaping is allowed.

"I passed Senate Bill 178 so that a homeowners association can't deny a homeowner to install drought resistant natural turf," said State Senator Kirk Watson.

But Austinites are so good at turning off faucets, it may cost them.

Austin Water expects to be $27 million under budget this year and pushed a plan to ask water customers for $7 more a month.

When we asked the mayor about it, he had questions of his own.

"We are going to be taking a close look at what they are spending their money on in an effort to reduce those expenses," he said.

Leffingwell wants the money to come from elsewhere.

"To see if we can transfer that surplus to keep our rates down through this drought period," he said.

Texas Water Smart asks all Texans to conserve by adopting more frugal water-use habits such as:

- Watering only when plants look like they need it, keeping in mind most plants die from over-watering, not under-watering

- Checking outdoor faucets, hoses and sprinklers for water-wasting leaks, and making sure to repair them quickly

- Adjusting sprinklers so only lawns and gardens are watered -- not houses, sidewalks or streets

- Cleaning driveways, patios and sidewalks with a broom or leaf blower instead of a hose

- Other recommended methods of water conservation include using watering cans rather than hoses and adding a layer of mulch to flower beds to help better retain water

- Inside the home, Texas Water Smart encourages shorter shower times, washing only full loads of dishes and clothes, and fixing leaky faucets and toilets

For more helpful tips and information, visit

By Christie Post

State, City Leaders Calling For Increased Water Conservation

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