The recent closing of the oyster season drives home the point that Texas has a water problem.
It also drives home the point that whole economic systems — in this case, the network of businesses based on the oyster harvest in Galveston Bay — can be shut down by environmental problems.
The science is simple. The health of the ecosystem depends on the amount of water flowing into the bay. The flow affects salinity and nutrient levels.
So, when we have drought, oysters are affected. But more and more, it’s not just the weather that’s a problem. More people are living in cities along the watersheds that feed Galveston Bay. These folks are using more water, leaving less to flow into the bay.
Sooner or later, Texans have got to realize that the smart thing to do is conserve. Saving water is like saving money — it’s a good idea. And it’s often the same thing.
Eric Garcetti, the mayor of Los Angeles, has been bragging that his city’s water usage is about the same as it was 30 years ago, despite the fact that the city has grown by a million people. The city has cut its per capita water usage in half. That fact affects the bottom line. The city has more money to spend on other things because it doesn’t have to spend so much on water.
Changing personal habits can help on a lot of levels. It can help the environment. It can help the economy, as in the case of the oyster industry. And it can help you, individually, to lower your water bill.
If you’re looking for a difference you can see, remember that the lawn and garden can account for roughly 40 percent of a household’s water use. You can cut your bill just be checking your irrigation system, setting up a system to capture rainwater, learning to use mulch and switching to native plants.
If you’re looking for ideas on how to conserve water, the new Ghirardi WaterSmart Park, 1810 Louisiana St., in League City, is a good place to start.