What is in this article?:
- Texas rice farmers could get relief from new reservoir project
- When rains faltered, tempers flared
- Lane City reservoir is the first step
- Work begins on Colorado River project.
- Lower Basin Reservoir Project should provide an additional 90,000 acre-feet of water a year to LCRA’s water supply system.
- Lane City reservoir is the first step.
When rains faltered, tempers flared
“We cannot ration and restrict our way to a bigger and better Texas. Solutions need to be focused on water for all needs and not restrictions for something as vital as food,” said Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples after the second year of irrigation rationing was announced earlier this year. “A crisis exists in Texas as our water capacity has failed to keep up with our growth. This situation has been compounded by the worst single-year drought on record. We must find a balanced solution that allows farmers to continue producing food to feed us while also providing communities with the water to sustain our families."
Indeed, LCRA's Board of Directors has been bombarded with an emotional response from multiple directions over recent and current water concerns and shortages. Property owners surrounding the three Highland Lakes have argued historically low lake levels have devalued their property and reduced their ability to operate boats and enjoy recreational activities provided by the reservoirs. City of Austin officials have complained that unless more water is made available, they run the risk of failing to meet residential and commercial demand for water.
Even industries located along and dependent on the river, other than agriculture, have expressed concern that water curtailment may affect their operations.
The solution is a return of normal rains, but LCRA officials say even when the rain comes, the problem of water shortages will remain as the state grows and demand on resources, like water, continues to rise.
“This ongoing drought has highlighted the need for bold and decisive action to ensure that LCRA’s customers have a reliable supply of water in the future,” said Board Chairman Tim Timmerman earlier this year. “This new reservoir would help serve the entire basin’s needs for generations."
The Lane City Project is just one of many the Board has approved to make more water available along the Colorado River corridor. LCRA is also pursuing an agreement to purchase a 34,000-acre site owned by Alcoa Inc., near Rockdale. The Alcoa property has significant surface water rights and is situated atop a prolific groundwater aquifer. On Sept. 5, 2012, LCRA General Manager Becky Motal signed a purchase agreement with Alcoa, and LCRA began a due diligence period of at least six months to determine if the sale will be completed. On Feb. 20, 2013, LCRA’s Board approved extending the due diligence period until May 31, pending Alcoa’s approval of the extension.
In addition, LCRA is moving ahead with a potential groundwater project in Bastrop County to meet the Board of Directors’ historic goal of adding 100,000 acre-feet of new water supply by 2017.