Texas Water Trade

Published April 29, 2024 by Julia Stanford

Like land, minerals, and other property rights, water is a commodity that can be traded for economic benefit. Many landowners have enjoyed the proceeds from the sale of water rights, and many others have reaped the rewards of those water transfers – from household users in a municipality struggling with its water supply, to the smallest aquatic species that may depend on the health of an ecosystem. The constant flow of water demand and population trends, combined with Texas’ favorable regulatory environment, come together with a few other factors to uniquely position Texas to grow and adapt to achieve long-term water security in something that Texas Water Trade calls “the Texas Opportunity.”

Texas Water Trade is a non-profit organization focused on developing reliable water access for all water users in Texas. They do this primarily by catalyzing sustainable water transactions to ensure clean, flowing water for people and nature. Since the organization’s formation in 2018, Texas Water Trade has purchased roughly 30,000 acre-feet of water for coastal habitats on the Texas Gulf Coast and executed a 15-year groundwater conservation purchase with one of the state’s largest pecan producers. In addition to these water transactions, Texas Water Trade also recently launched a water service subsidiary to increase access to clean water in underserved communities, and participates in the greater dialogue around water conservation, specifically in promoting Net Zero Water design. Read below for a look into these two innovative programs!


Net Zero Water

Net Zero Water capitalizes on the aforementioned Texas opportunity to use our state’s rapid growth for a source of new water instead of just an additional demand on existing resources. Texas Water Trade published a Net Zero Water Toolkit in April to guide property developers, owner/operators, and other professionals engaged in land development through the landscape of Net Zero Water, from design to permitting to maintenance.

Net Zero Water refers to a design mindset that prioritizes the use of alternative water sources for a project’s resilience and reliability. Net Zero Water aims to help a development provide for its own water needs through the capture, storage, and treatment of compatible water sources found onsite.

The toolkit is now available online at texaswatertrade.org/net-zero-water. Using this resource, Texas Water Trade will collaborate with land developers and water providers to make buildings that capture, treat, and reuse their own water the new norm in Texas. Buildings that incorporate Net Zero Water strategies and already exist in Texas demonstrate the incredible promise of onsite reuse – demanding 75-90% less from shared water supplies than typical buildings. Texas Water Trade was involved in the project delivery for the City of Austin’s Permitting & Development Center, prompting the construction of onsite water reuse systems designed to generate 1.5 million gallons a year of water from onsite air conditioning condensate, rainwater, and blackwater treatment.

Left: City of Austin Permitting & Development Center

This 264,000 sq. ft. building features onsite rainwater capture, condensate capture, and wastewater reuse that are expected to reduce potable water usage by 75% compared to similar

The treatment system footprint is 800 sq. ft., housed in a green space between the building and parking structure. The PDC building is equipped with two subsurface water storage tanks, capable of storing 40,000 gallons of onsite harvested water supplies.

Job Opportunity!

Texas Water Trade is currently seeking a Net Zero Water Engineer to join the team and skillfully develop a collaborative program to scale water reuse across Texas.

Click here to learn more.

Vida Water

In an effort to combat water insecurity in Texas’ most vulnerable areas, Texas Water Trade has also established a drinking water treatment service company, Vida Water. Based on initial studies and survey results, Vida Water is now preparing to begin their water service in El Paso County and positioned to expand into the Lower Rio Grande Valley where there are many unincorporated colonia communities that lack basic infrastructure for its inhabitants.

Vida Water aims to close the water gap by deploying and maintaining onsite water treatment technologies for households and schools using a subscription payment system designed to beat what the lowest income Texans pay today for bottled water. The point-of-use treatment systems it will deploy and maintain are already being used by millions of Americans today. The pricing model was developed after Texas Water Trade partnered with the University of Texas – El Paso and health promoters statewide to conduct a survey of 650 households and illuminate the costs paid by households without water services or with concerns over the safety of their tap water.


Rooted in science, equity, and collaboration to achieve water sustainability, Texas Water Trade will continue to make waves across the landscape. Visit Texas Water Trade’s website at www.texaswatertrade.org to learn more about their efforts. You can join the email list at the top of the page to receive their quarterly newsletter and stay updated on projects.