An evaluation of urban landscape water use in Texas

Raul I. Cabrera, Kevin L. Wagner, Benjamin Wherley


Irrigated agriculture is the largest user of water in Texas, followed by urban-municipal uses, which has landscape irrigation as its largest component. Data from various sources were used to estimate the extent of the state’s urban landscaped area and its associated water use. The statewide area in golf courses is estimated at 115,000 acres, while 1,608,399 acres are ascribed to managed landscapes and lawns. While the total annual water use by golf courses is estimated at 0.364 million acre-feet, the volume projected for the landscape sector ranges from a low of 1.898 million acre-feet to a high of 4.021 million acre-feet. The sum of water use by golf courses with the low-end estimate for landscapes would represent 46.6% of the total use within the urban/municipal water sector and 12.6% of the total annual demand by all activities in Texas during 2010. This effectively positions urban irrigation as the state’s third largest water user, after agricultural irrigation and other urban uses. Strategies and practices that can significantly conserve (reduce) water use for urban landscape irrigation include water-conserving native and adaptive plant materials, weather- and sensor-guided irrigation, deficit irrigation practices, and use of alternative (saline/brackish, reclaimed, and graywater) water sources.


Landscapes; lawns; irrigation; ornamental plants; water use; conservation

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Texas Water Journal

The Texas Water Journal is an online, peer-reviewed journal devoted to the timely consideration of Texas water resources management, research, and policy issues from a multidisciplinary perspective that integrates science, engineering, law, planning, and other disciplines. It also provides updates on key state legislation and policy changes by Texas administrative agencies. The journal is published by the Texas Water Journal, a nonprofit organization, in cooperation with the Texas Water Resources Institute, part of Texas A&M AgriLife.

ISSN 2160-5319
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