New Braunfels Utilities, area officials consider One Water conservation methods amid continued rapid growth in Central Texas

The goal of the One Water initiative is to outline water conservation and preservation strategies between area entities. (Lauren Canterberry/Community Impact Newspaper)
The goal of the One Water initiative is to outline water conservation and preservation strategies between area entities. (Lauren Canterberry/Community Impact Newspaper)

The goal of the One Water initiative is to outline water conservation and preservation strategies between area entities. (Lauren Canterberry/Community Impact Newspaper)

As the city of New Braunfels and the surrounding area continue to experience explosive population growth and related development, representatives from several local entities have begun plans to implement sweeping water conservation efforts.

In August 2019, officials from New Braunfels Utilities, the city of New Braunfels and the Guadalupe Blanco River Authority established the One Water team to identify methods to preserve local water resources, according to NBU officials.

The team selected the One Water approach to create a roadmap to manage watersheds, waterways and groundwater in the New Braunfels area, said Nancy Pappas, managing director for the Headwaters at the Comal.

One Water, as defined by the Water Research Foundation, is an integrated planning and implementation approach to managing finite water resources for long-term resiliency that meets the economic, community and ecosystem needs of a city or region.

“You've got drinking water and it has its own set of regulations and design criteria and so does wastewater, stormwater, reuse water, all these different kinds of water. But the fact is, we all know that water is a cycle, and it's all integrated,” NBU CEP Ian Taylor said. “The concept behind One Water is that you optimize the full water cycle by bringing in everybody who has a role in managing and regulating planning for water and doing all that work together in one collaborative effort.”


During a June board meeting, the NBU board of trustees moved to continue developing the One Water plan after reviewing a presentation from the team about some of the key objectives in the plan, said Sarah Richards, director of customer solutions for NBU.

Some of the objectives include planning and managing water resources holistically and sustainably; improving the health of local watersheds and other water resources; and educating the public about water conservation and sustainability.

The Headwaters at the Comal is working to educate the public about local water resources through a variety of programming and will continue to do so as the One Water plan moves forward, Pappas said.

Informing residents about residential and commercial conservation methods will be important as the community continues to grow, she said.

“The Headwaters just looks forward to being a convening place for conversations around water and really educating the community about the opportunities we have here to maintain the beauty and the water resources,” Pappas said. “Water is a huge challenge in a growing community like this. ... It's not about stopping growth. It's about doing it in a way that's really strategic and smart so we continue to have this great quality of life.”

Implementation of the plan will require collaboration between the community, developers and officials to plan conservation strategies, design drainage plans and develop land use plans, according to NBU documents.

The roadmap and its objectives will also need to be presented to the city and the GBRA before a committee is formed and officials begin working on tangible plans and initiatives, Richards said.

While the discussions are primarily taking place between NBU, the city and the GBRA, Taylor said his team hopes other area entities will join the initiative as the project progresses.

“[The effort is] important for us, No. 1 because we have the stewardship responsibility. We have access to the different water resources like the Edwards Aquifer, Comal and Guadalupe rivers and a number of others,” Taylor said. “And it's a finite resource. So obviously we want to manage that well not just for us but for every generation that follows.”
By Lauren Canterberry

Reporter, New Braunfels

Lauren joined Community Impact Newspaper as a reporter in October 2019. After graduating with a degree in journalism from the University of Georgia in Athens, Georgia, Lauren was a freelance journalist and worked as a college English teacher in China. At CI, Lauren covers education, local government, transportation, business, real estate development and nonprofits in New Braunfels.