The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service is strengthening its challenge to Texans to save millions of gallons of water annually as well as keep more money in their pockets by saving on their monthly water bills.
The "40-Gallon Challenge" is a program that calls on residents and businesses to reduce their average water use by 40 gallons per day, according to Dr. Diane Boellstorff, AgriLife Extension water resources specialist in College Station.
Boellstorff became involved in the voluntary national program in 2011, serving as the Texas representative.
After just one year, she and AgriLife Extension economist Dean McCorkle in College Station completed an economic impact study in November, which showed that Texas participants, based on average municipal rates, were collectively saving an estimated $299,000 a year, in addition to the water savings.
"At the time that we did the impact statement, we were able to count 80 programs from 89 counties, and participation continues to increase," she says. "For example, the impact statement mentions 1,050 participating households saving 71 million gallons of water annually, but today's numbers are 1,152 participating households saving 80 million gallons annually."
That change has come in only three months. Boellstorff says many AgriLife Extension agents are beginning to deliver the program in their local counties. She also is making presentations to spread the program across the state.
This water resource conservation tool is one of many programs initiated and supported through the Southern Region Water Resource Project, funded through the USDA National Institute for Food and Agriculture. Dr. Mark McFarland, AgriLife Extension state soil fertility specialist in College Station is the project director.
The 40-Gallon Challenge allows Texas to compete against other Americans who also are taking the challenge in their states.
At the program's website, www.40gallonchallenge.org Texans can pledge to adopt water-saving practices and see how many gallons of water they can expect to save.