HP Officials Try to Set Example For Water Use

Conserve water and still keep your lawn looking nice? It's possible, says the town of Highland Park.
Conserve water and still keep your lawn green? It’s possible, says the town of Highland Park.

The town of Highland Park wants its residents to know that it is possible to conserve water and still maintain those perfectly manicured lawns for the neighbors to envy.

And to prove that point, the town is using itself as the guinea pig.

“I think this community can use a lot less water and remain the gold standard in terms of beauty,” said HP Mayor Joel Williams. “It’s just going to take a different mindset.”

With drought conditions keeping lake levels low and affecting water supplies throughout Texas, the pressure continues to rise on municipalities and property owners to restrict their water usage.

HP officials think residents should do their share in a town where 96 percent of water usage is residential, and the bulk of that is spent on irrigation.

“We want to improve water efficiency,” said Ronnie Brown, director of town services. “Public education is the emphasis. We can have attractive lawns and still save water.”

For example, Highland Park Department of Public Safety officers have started issuing door hangers when they see violations of the town’s conservation guidelines, such as broken sprinkler heads, time-of-day watering restrictions, or leaking irrigation systems that cause water to flow on to public sidewalks and streets.

“We haven’t seen very many. We do the education first before we do any kind of enforcement action,” said HP public information officer Lance Koppa. “There’s a general tendency for irrigation systems to run slightly longer and more frequently than they have to. That’s part of that education component. They can usually achieve the same goals with less frequency and duration.”

Koppa said the irrigation message is coupled with a warning about mosquitoes, that overwatering of shaded areas can become an insect breeding ground.

He said HP also is contacting its top 25 residential water users to encourage efficient usage. The town is inspecting all new residential irrigation systems, although older ones are grandfathered in, and suggesting more efficient equipment in some cases. Homeowners have been generally receptive so far, he said.

Meanwhile, the town has aggressively started to curtail water usage in its parks through the use of historical data, “smart meters,” and more precise nozzles. Brown said that strategy has reduced water usage in one park by 60 percent.

HP is experimenting in other ways, as well. The town is altering its plant selection in public areas to include more adaptable flowers and fewer high-maintenance plants such as azaleas.

“We have to look at drought-tolerant plants that use less water,” said town administrator Bill Lindley.

The town recently approved a horticultural consulting agreement with the Dallas Arboretum that began by reviewing the contents of the display beds at Flippen Park. In all, parks comprise about 20 percent of the land in HP.

“If we’re going to ask the residents to make sure they’re not overwatering, we want to make sure our irrigation systems are kept up,” Koppa said. “As time has gone on, it’s really become a topic in the forefront. It’s not something we can get away from. We’re all going to have to make this adjustment.”

Koppa thinks that just as HP sets a benchmark for other communities in terms of its landscaping, it also can establish a standard for conservation.

“It’s a real issue for everybody. We have to do our share,” he said. “We want the town to set an example.”

2 thoughts on “HP Officials Try to Set Example For Water Use

  • July 22, 2015 at 7:42 am
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    “I think this community can use a lot less water and remain the gold standard in terms of beauty,” said HP Mayor Joel Williams. “It’s just going to take a different mindset.”

    It appears to me that allowing very mature Azaleas on Lakeside Dr. to “fry” from lack of watering, and die, is stupidity by the town’s council and administrator. Mayor Williams, if you really believe allowing the town’s habitat and natural beauty to starve for water is a “different mindset”, then as a taxpayer, I believe you need some serious therapy. While you let the taxpayers property (and I’m referring to our public areas) fry from the lack of watering, you enjoy wasting thousands of gallons of water when every fire hydrant in HP is flushed by city employees. Why not harvest the wasted water and use it for the town’s plants instead of wasting it. Ever thought of that? And if you are continually going to deny the towns habitat water, and degrade the town’s aesthetics, then shut the fountains down in front of HP town hall.

    I still do not have an answer as to why the Dallas Country Club was supposedly allowed to draw water from Turtle Creek to water their grounds during serious drought times. Wasn’t that a violation of State law. I’m waiting for the permit that was also supposedly issued to the DCC, according to Ronnie Brown, the parks director for HP. I’m not sure HP even had such authority.

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  • July 30, 2015 at 3:03 pm
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    Nice job…… HP Town council for not watering the Azaleas on Lakeside Dr. Sad to watch them being dug up yesterday, July, 29, 2015. They were probably here before most of you on the council were born. The crazy theory to water twice of week in Texas heat will destroy our town’s habitat, and in the bigger scheme of things, will cost the town (taxpayers) more in the long run.

    Has anyone, i.e. like Mayor Williams, noticed the potential (or already) erosion problems along Turtle Creek? (or on the town’s property?). I believe as a taxpayer, it would be refreshing……to not have people who serve publicly on our council that bow down to pressure. Too many blinkers.

    And what about the permit the Dallas Country Club was supposed to have from HP to draw water from Turtle Creek to water their grounds. I guess there isn’t one according to HP. So why did Mr. Brown of HP claim this to me back in October, 2014? …..State of Texas property, while the rest of us have had to pay, and absorb HP’s increased water rates. So why did the DCC apparently have free water from Turtle Creek in an extreme drought? Mr. Brown, I would like to know, sir.

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