New Wimberley school designed to be water wise

History could be made this summer as Wimberley ISD officials break ground on the state’s first school aimed at reducing groundwater usage by 90%. 

Experts are hoping the school will set a precedent for other districts around the country, especially in environmentally sensitive regions, to implement similar one water systems. 

Located at Ranch Road 12 and Winters Mill Parkway, the 90,600 square foot primary school will collect, treat and reuse rainwater for toilets, irrigation and other uses. The system is anticipated to save the district $800,000 to $1,000,000 in 25 years compared to a typical water system. One water systems is the management and re-use of water for multiple purposes.

“We’re excited to get this project underway, and are really looking forward to that first day of school experience for all our younger students at this spacious, state of the art, green campus in a little over a year from now,” said Wimberley ISD Superintendent Dwain York. 

The $31.3 million bond project, approved by voters in May 2018, has a capacity for 800 students in pre-k through second grade with 40 classrooms, a gymnasium, library, cafeteria and several smaller reading and math intervention classrooms. 

The campus library will be equipped with clear pipes that will allow students to visually see the collection of water through the system. 

site plan courtesy of Wimberley ISD

A joint effort by the Meadows Center at Texas State University and the Wimberley Valley Watershed Association (WVWA), leaders from both organizations anticipate the school will serve as a model for other campuses across the state. 

“This is a massive innovation in terms of water conservation efforts, which is a priority here in Wimberley and the Hill Country,” said WVWA Executive Director David Baker. “ We’re mining our aquifers, pumping more than it can recharge which is causing a major impact to our water source.” 

To aid in the conservation efforts, the campus will capture around 2,000 gallons a day of water from air conditioning condensation, an innovative conservation concept utilized at the Austin Library. 

From A/C units alone, the campus can potentially collect 730,000 gallons of water a year. 

The on-site treatment center will filter the rainwater through a sand filtration system before it can be utilized on the campus. A third component of the campus will be various rain gardens that will help reduce stormwater sediments and pollutants offsite. 

A one water summit in Austin is slated for Sept. 18, where around 1,200 delegates from across the country will discuss one water solutions. Baker said local leaders will be highlighting the new campus at the summit. 

Baker said the WVWA and Meadows Center will monitor the system and draft a case study on the results of the campus’ conservation. 

“It’s a 140-acre site and the district plans to potentially build a performing arts center and other facilities,” Baker said. “If we get there, the plan is to make the whole property a one water campus.” 

Groundbreaking on the one water campus was scheduled for Monday, but was canceled due to weather. WISD officials have not announced a make-up date at this time.

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