As fossil fuel supplies dwindle conflicts ensue. The next resource on the edge of extinction: water.
Texas residents in drought-prone areas should conserve their water, especially in Arlington which has a growing population, said Nick Fang, civil engineer assistant professor. But, it’s not just about people leaving the faucet on too long. Arlington residents can lose water through leaky pipes without knowing it.
“When water is plenty, everyone is happy,” Fang said. “When we get a limited amount of water and limited resources, [people are] going to fight for it.”
One way to combat water loss throughout city systems is awareness, which is why Hubert Colas started FluksAqua. The site was launched last year, so water providers and other users could exchange data and knowledge, he said.
Lost water travels through the waste water system. From here, it is pumped and treated before being returned to the environment, Colas said. The community can use less water and save money by fixing the pipes.
In 2014, Arlington was provided with 19.9 billion gallons of water, but 1.9 of those billion gallons were lost, according to the data on FluksAqua website. The water supplied to Arlington served 369,308 people. These customers lost $28 each for the water loss.
Comparing these statistics to neighboring cities, Dallas had a population of about 2 million more than Arlington and was supplied with about five times more water. The loss was 10 times more as a result.
Colas said Texas is doing better water-wise than most states, partly because state and city officials collect their data. He said one in six states report water statistics. Colas also has information from the states of Georgia, Quebec, France and the United Kingdom.
“By being more aware of what’s happening, we can have a more positive conversation,” he said.
Arlington city officials do not want to use any more water than necessary, and they are addressing the issues. In early 2015, contractors replaced the crumbling concrete pipes underneath Stadium Drive, between Abrams and Division streets, with metal and plastic pipes, according to a Fort Worth Star-Telegram article.
Last month, the city received a $300,000 federal grant to replace regular water meters with “smart” meters, Water Utilities director Walter “Buzz” Pishkur said in a press release. The new technology can detect smaller usage measurements, such as how much water was used in an hour compared to the amount in a month.
Pishkur and his team are also working on a pipe-leakage program, which can find leaks that can’t be seen on the surface. Another program shuts down valves to prevent flooding.
“There’s no question that the program we have in place, because it’s multi-faceted and addresses all the things related to water efficiency, will be successful,” Pishkur said.
Fang approves of the measures city officials are taking, especially of the detailed data provided by SMART meters, he said.
Pishkur said Arlington is below the average of water loss that some systems have, but they strive for better efficiency.
“We’re addressing these things before they become a problem,” he said. “I’d like to see us be a leader versus being the average.”