“This is a historic project on many levels,” Motal said. “Not only would it be the first major reservoir built in the basin in four decades, but it’s the first project in our history that would allow us to store significant amounts of water downstream that could be used by multiple customers. That’s vitally important to serving the needs of our downstream industrial and agricultural customers, meeting environmental flow requirements and taking pressure off the Highland Lakes.”

Currently, most of the water that enters the river downstream of the Highland Lakes flows to Matagorda Bay unless customers withdraw it from the river for immediate use. There is no way to capture and store those flows for future use, so during dry periods downstream customers often need to call on water from the Highland Lakes. Last year, for instance, more than 800,000 acre-feet of water flowed down the river into Matagorda Bay.

The reservoir would be built to hold about 40,000 acre-feet of water, but could be filled multiple times over a year by capturing water flowing in the river, making it capable of adding 90,000 acre-feet of firm water to the region’s supply. Firm water is water that can be counted on during a repeat of the conditions during the worst drought on record, the decade-long drought from 1947-1957.

LCRA studied several potential sites and other options before recommending the Lane City site for the first of three possible downstream reservoirs. All the sites studied are suitable, but the Lane City site requires the least amount of infrastructure relocations and is the most cost effective. The other sites studied are in Colorado and Matagorda counties.

LCRA officials say the new reservoir, combined with groundwater permit requests for up to 10,000 acre-feet of water a year now before the Lost Pines Groundwater Conservation District, would benefit users throughout the basin by meeting LCRA’s goal of adding 100,000 acre-feet of water supply; reducing demands for water from the Highland Lakes;

improve agricultural water reliability and efficiency; and reduce the risk of curtailing water for cities, industry and other firm-water customers.

 

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