2. Sustainably Manage our Water Resources

The Sustainably Manage Our Water Resources (SMOWR) priority program focuses on sustainable management of Austin’s water resources; water, wastewater, reclaimed water, and storm drainage systems; floodplains; and the water quality of our lakes, rivers, streams, and aquifers. The work of this priority program supports efforts to respond to challenges posed by a changing climate, major flooding, drought, population growth, and other factors that require adaptation and increased planning and coordination.

Sustainable Water Indicators Summary

We're Improving
development within the 100-year floodplain
total water pumpage in gallons per capita per day
residential water consumption in gallons per capita per day
environmental integrity index scores of stream water quality

Wrong Direction
development within edwards aquifer zones

There has been consistent improvement over the past five years in most all of the indicators associated with the Sustainable Water priority program.
Below you will find a detailed analysis and description of each of the Sustainable Water indicators. 

#34 development within edwards aquifer zones

Description: This indicator measures the total developed land area inside the City of Austin and its Extra-Territorial Jurisdiction (ETJ) portion of the Edwards Aquifer Recharge and Contributing Zones. The aquifer is an underground layer of porous limestone rock that stores water. The contributing zone is where rainwater flows over land into creeks that “contribute” water to the aquifer downstream. The Recharge Zone contains karst limestone where water infiltrates and flows into karst caves, cracks, and other openings to directly fill or “recharge” the aquifer. There is little to no filtration of water pollutants in this recharge process, and it is therefore critical to reduce the level of intensity of development in these areas and use best management practices to capture, treat, and infiltrate stormwater runoff.
The Edwards Aquifer is perhaps the most important environmentally sensitive asset that provides drinking water and feeds a number of springs in Austin, including Barton Springs and its pool. Imagine Austin calls for directing growth away from the Barton Springs Zone of the Edwards Aquifer recharge and contributing zones and other water-supply watersheds.
Analysis of Results
Approximately 14 square miles of land has been developed since 2008 in the City of Austin jurisdiction (full, limited, and extra-territorial) portion of the Edwards Aquifer. This is approximately a quarter of the development that has occurred over this period in the entire Austin jurisdiction. Over 50% of the Edwards Aquifer Zone within the city is now developed. 
Methodology
The City of Austin creates a land use inventory every 2 years that identifies categories of land uses that can then be classified as developed or undeveloped. Parcel GIS layers from the appraisal districts are copied and appraisal information, building permits, and other source information is "attached" to the parcels. Land use data from the previous year is also attached. Parcels with new structures based on the appraisal or building permits are classified into a land use. The information is verified in many cases through aerial photos or other observations. The land use categories are totaled and summed by their acreage in GIS. Each category is then assigned either developed or undeveloped. 
Data Source + Collection Cycle
This dataset is updated on a 2 year cycle.
Additional Notes
The following categories of land use are assigned "Developed": Single Family, Mobile Homes, Multi-family, Commercial, Office, Industrial, Mixed-use, Civic, Resource Extraction, Utilities, Parks, Transportation, Streets, and Water. "Undeveloped" includes: Large-lot Single Family, Open Space, Agriculture, and other undeveloped land. 
There have been variations in collection methods for the land use inventories over the years. Totals can vary due to the condition of the source data. 
For this indicator, the Edwards Aquifer Zones are considered to be all land within the ETJ that is in the Edwards Aquifer Recharge and Contributing Zones, including those north of the river.

#35 development within the 100-year floodplain

Description: This indicator measures the number of habitable buildings located in the 100-year floodplain. Floodplains are the areas likely to flood when our creeks rise and flow over their banks. Tracking development within the floodplain allows us to assess the risk to public safety. The 100-year floodplain is only suited for very limited development due to that risk. Numbers go down with City projects to remove or reduce risk to existing structures. Flood regulations prevent more structures from being introduced to the floodplain. Numbers can increase if areas with existing structures are annexed into the corporate city limits.
Imagine Austin calls for actions that reduce the threats flooding poses to public safety and private property.
Analysis of Results
The City's Watershed Protection Master Plan has an objective to "reduce the depth and frequency of flooding for all 100-year floodplain structures" and actively seeks to meet this goal. Since the Imagine Austin Comprehensive Plan was approved in 2012, the City has removed more than 564 structures from the 100-year floodplain with property buyouts and structural engineering solutions, reducing the number of structures from 2,380 to 1,816 - a reduction of 24%.
Methodology
The City of Austin Watershed Protection Department uses hydrologic & hydraulic engineering models and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to map floodplains and then identify structures in the floodplain. Capital projects are implemented to reduce flood risk and the results are tracked in GIS.
Data Source + Collection Cycle
data collected annually

#37 total water pumpage in gallons per capita per day

Description: This indicator measures the total water pumped from Austin Water treatment plants in Gallons Per Capita Per Day (GPCD). The total water pumpage per capita per day is how Austin Water tracks our community's progress relative to City Council's goal of reducing water use in Austin to 140 gallons per capita per day or lower by 2020.
This indicator is a central focus of the SMOWR priority program and their work in water resource management, water conservation, water reuse, and integrated water resource planning while balancing available resources, evolving technologies, growth trends, and environmental impacts. These efforts are reflected in the SMOWR Priority Program work goals including integrated water management, water conservation goals, and drought planning. 
Analysis of Results
With our community's resounding response to Austin's focus on water conservation and drought response, total gallons per capita per day (gpcd) water use has been reduced dramatically over the past 10 years. In 2006, the total use figure was 190 gpcd and in 2016, that same figure was 122 gpcd. This represents a 36% reduction in per capita water use. In 2010, Austin City Council set a goal of reducing water use in Austin to 140 gpcd or lower by 2020 (based on a five-year rolling average). This goal has been met and exceeded early by our community - the most recent 5 year average amount is 129 gpcd.
Note that weather variations between 2010 and 2011 were contributing factors to the difference in water use between those two years. Historical total water pumpage in gallons per capita per day (gpcd) ranged from 137 gpcd in 2010 to 162 gpcd in 2011.  2010 included wetter than normal conditions especially in July, while 2011 was one of the hottest and driest years on record. 
Methodology
The total annual amount of water pumped from Austin Water treatment plants is divided by the population of its service area, both residential and wholesale, and then divided by the number of days in the year. The result is the amount of water used on a gallons per capita per day (gpcd) basis.
Data Source + Collection Cycle
This dataset is updated annually based on Austin Water pumpage records and estimates of Austin Water served population.

#38 residential water consumption in gallons per capita per day

Description: This indicator measures water consumption based on metered water volumes used by customers in the residential sector in Gallons Per Capita Per Day (GPCD) for single-family and multifamily water consumption only. The data are based on all single-family and multifamily retail customers according to billing records. This indicates our community's water use and efficiency on the household level, independent of growth in the business or industrial sectors.
The residential gallons per capita use indicator relates to the Sustainably Manage Our Water Resources (SMOWR) Priority Program in that a central focus of the program is on water resource management, water conservation, water reuse, and integrated water resource planning while balancing available resources, evolving technologies, growth trends, and environmental impacts. These efforts are reflected in the SMOWR Priority Program work goals including integrated water management, water conservation goals, and drought planning.
Analysis of Results
Due to our community's resounding response to Austin's focus on water conservation and drought response, retail residential gallons per capita per day (gpcd) water use has been reduced dramatically over the past 10-years. In 2006, the total use figure was 103 gpcd and in 2016, that same figure was 71 gpcd. This represents a 32% reduction in residential per capita water use (retail).
Weather variations between 2010 and 2011 were contributing factors to the difference in water use between those two years.  Historical residential water consumption in gallons per capita per day (gpcd) ranged from 80 gpcd in 2010 to 96 gpcd in 2011.  2010 included wetter than normal conditions especially in July, while 2011 was one of the hottest and driest years on record.
Methodology
The total annual amount of metered water consumption by retail customers in the single-family and multifamily sectors according to billing records is divided by the estimated retail population in its service area, both residential and wholesale, and then divided by the number of days in the year.  The result is the amount of water used on a gallons per capita per day (gpcd) basis in the residential sectors (retail, single-family and multi-family).  
Data Source + Collection Cycle
Updated annually based on Austin Water billing records and estimates of Austin Water served population.

#39 environmental integrity index scores

Description: This indicator measures the percentage of watersheds having good or better Environmental Integrity Index (EII) scores. EII is a comprehensive set of water quality measurements which collectively assess watershed health. The EII is a program designed to regularly monitor and assess the chemical, biological, and physical integrity of Austin’s creeks and streams. The overall EII score is a comprehensive reflection of the health and resilience of Austin’s creeks. Austin creeks are now assessed every other year. It can be used to identify where problems occur and may be used to track the success of Austin’s water quality protection efforts over time.
Imagine Austin calls for actions that strengthen flood control, erosion, and water quality programs, incentives, regulations, and enforcement to incorporate best practices and meet or exceed national standards. EII monitoring collects the data essential to track present conditions and progress towards meeting these goals.
Analysis of Results
Based on the most recent (2015-16) Environmental Integrity Index (EII) watershed assessment by the Austin Watershed Protection Department and Travis County Department of Transportation and Natural Resources, 52 watersheds were assessed and 39 (75%) yielded "Good" or better scores.  Scores reported during the 2012 period were heavily impacted by the extreme prolonged drought.  Recent EII scores improved as conditions have changed in response to sustained baseflow in Austin creeks.  Relative to baseline levels of the EII from 1996-99, more than 89% of Austin watersheds sampled in 2015/2016 had the same or better score indicating that overall water quality in Austin creeks has remained the same or even improved despite continued increasing disturbance from urbanization.
Methodology
The EII is a data collection system used to monitor and assess the chemical, biological, and physical integrity of Austin’s creeks and streams. Currently, all watersheds are monitored on a two-year rotating basis. More than 50 different types of parameters are measured to yield scores for contact recreation, non-contact recreation and aesthetics, water quality chemistry, sediment quality, physical integrity, and aquatic life support, which are combined into a single composite score. A rating of "good" means a given creek reach is in good overall condition and meets the minimum goals of the Watershed Protection Master Plan.
Data Source + Collection Cycle
data are collected every two years for each creek reach
Learn More
Learn more about Austin's creek health as well as our air quality, urban forest, and emissions in the 2016 State of our Environment Report.

Priority Program #2
Teresa Lutes of the Austin Water Utility and Matt Hollon of the Watershed Protection Department are the Sustainably Manage Our Water Resources Priority Program Champions. 
Contributing departments include: Austin Water, Watershed Protection, Planning and Zoning