Based on an article in the New Braunfels Herald-Zeitung by Theresa Davis, titled “Drought & Demand: Water Conservation a Focal Point as New Style of Developments Arrive in New Braunfels,” we explore the critical issue of water conservation amidst burgeoning development and drought conditions in New Braunfels and Comal County. The full article can be accessed .

New Braunfels and Comal County are currently facing a significant challenge that intertwines their escalating development with the ongoing drought conditions—water conservation. This reality isn’t only affecting environmental groups and local governments; it directly impacts business owners and residents alike. Let’s delve into the article and analyze what this means for the community, offering insights and suggestions for navigating this pressing issue.

Population Growth and Water Demand

New Braunfels has seen a sizeable population increase by nearly 20,000 residents from 2020 to 2023, with Comal County as a whole growing by an additional 30,000 people within the same period. This population boom puts substantial pressure on the existing water supply, especially amid record-breaking drought conditions. Business owners and local residents should be aware of the inevitability of stricter water regulations and the potential for increased utility costs as demand surges[1]``[2].

The Shift in Housing Developments

The nature of housing in New Braunfels and Comal County is evolving. There’s a notable shift from rural, spaced-out homes with native landscaping to suburban developments characterized by manicured lawns and higher-density housing. This trend, while attractive for many new residents seeking suburban life, exacerbates water consumption due to the water-intensive nature of such landscaping choices[3].

Water Conservation Initiatives

Water conservation has become a focal point, with both local governments and environmental groups actively promoting various strategies. The Hill Country Alliance, for example, works to encourage responsible water use, liaising with developers interested in innovative water conservation techniques like rainwater catchment and promoting drought-resistant native plants instead of water-intensive options like St. Augustine or Bermuda grass. This proactive approach is essential for sustainable development in the area[4]``[5].

New Regulatory Measures

The City of New Braunfels is crafting new land development ordinances aimed at regulating what can be built where, with an emphasis on limiting water-intensive turfgrass and imposing more restrictive requirements for new builds over the aquifer recharge zone[6]. Businesses and homeowners should prepare for these changes, which may affect landscaping choices and even impose limitations on property expansions.

Role of New Braunfels Utilities (NBU)

New Braunfels Utilities (NBU) plays a pivotal role in water conservation efforts. From 2013 to 2022, NBU saw a 57% increase in single-family customers, a 62% rise in multi-family customers, and a 23% increase in commercial customers, emphasizing the growing demand for water in the region. NBU actively promotes sensible landscaping practices for new builds, requiring that at least one model home in new subdivisions must be xeriscaped—an approach involving less than 50% turfgrass. Additionally, NBU’s regulations support the installation of efficient irrigation systems with rain sensors and water-saving sprinklers[7]``[8].

Educational Efforts and Incentives

To complement regulatory measures, NBU provides homeowners with information packets on water and energy conservation tips, and its website offers details about rebates and DIY water conservation projects. Popular programs include grass removal rebates and irrigation assessment services provided by NBU’s Resource Conservation Representatives. These programs not only promote conservation but also help mitigate the financial impacts on homeowners[9]``[10].

Commercial Implications

Businesses across New Braunfels and Comal County also stand to be affected by these water conservation measures. There’s a push for commercial industries to adopt practices like using reclaimed wastewater instead of relying on fresh drinking water supplies. This initiative can translate into operational changes for industries that are heavily reliant on water, such as hospitality, food production, and recreational services[11]``[12].

Rural and Unincorporated Areas

Interestingly, over 40% of Comal County’s population resides in unincorporated areas, and this number is rising. These areas see different dynamics compared to urban settings. For instance, Comal County requires a minimum lot size and proof of adequate water supply for new developments, ensuring that growth does not overly strain the region’s water resources. While these regulations are crucial for long-term sustainability, they may limit development opportunities and increase costs for developers[13]``[14].

“One Water” Initiative

One notable collaborative effort is the “One Water” initiative by NBU, the City of New Braunfels, and the Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority. This project encourages a holistic approach to water management, recognizing the interconnectedness of various water sources—groundwater, surface water, and reclaimed water. Such initiatives are vital as they aim to optimize water use, ensuring each drop counts[15].

Conclusion and Recommendations

For local business owners, the path forward involves adapting practices to align with water conservation goals. This might include investing in water-efficient technologies, redesigning landscapes to incorporate native, drought-resistant plants, and exploring options for water reuse. For residents, the focus should be on supporting sustainable development through responsible water use and participating in community initiatives aimed at preserving water resources.

In essence, both the business community and residents must recognize that water scarcity is not just an environmental issue but a pressing socio-economic challenge. By embracing conservation measures and supporting local regulations designed to mitigate water stress, they can help ensure a sustainable future for New Braunfels and Comal County.

For more detailed information on water conservation measures, utility programs, and how you can participate, visit the New Braunfels Utilities website or contact the Hill Country Alliance. Your proactive participation today can make a significant difference in securing adequate water supply for tomorrow.

This thorough exploration not only helps in understanding the context of ongoing development and water scarcity challenges but also provides actionable insights for those directly impacted. By integrating these practices and recommendations, New Braunfels and Comal County can navigate their growth sustainably, ensuring prosperity for both current and future generations.

See below for a list of organizations that you can join forces with the make an impact in the greater Comal County area:

Comal Conservation:

Native Plant Society of Comal:

Friends of Dry Comal Creek:

Native Plant Society of Texas- New Braunfels:

Preserve Lake Dunlop Association:

Preserve Our Hill Country Environment:

Texas Cave Management Association:


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About the Author: Kaitie Moore Underwood

Kaitie Moore Underwood
Kaitie Moore Underwood's roots in competitive rodeo in Texas intertwined with her academic pursuits at the University of Houston, where she met her husband, Hank. Their move to the Hill Country in 2021 marked the beginning of both their family and Kaitie's successful career in real estate, assisting 18 families in her first year. With a background in the hospitality industry, recognized for her service excellence by the Starwood Hotel Sales Organization, Kaitie has honed her skills in financial analysis, strategy, and marketing. Now, as a pivotal member of the Blue Collar Commercial Group, she continues her professional ascent, consistently exceeding expectations through her dedication to relationships and solutions.

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