LCRA analysts say the higher flows caused by the release and recent rains also scoured some of the aquatic vegetation from the lower Colorado River and raised dissolved oxygen levels in the river’s water, which should benefit fish and other aquatic life.

LCRA could be required to release up to an additional 5,834 acre-feet by the end of the year unless the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) grants LCRA’s request to waive the requirement.

The river authority asked for relief because Central Texas is experiencing one of the worst droughts in history and lakes Travis and Buchanan were nearing all-time lows. September and early October rains helped by adding roughly 22,000 acre-feet to the lakes, but LCRA says the combined storage of the lakes was still only 33 percent of capacity and suggested it would take more than 1.3 million acre-feet to fill the lakes to capacity.

Since the delay request was sent, lake levels have increased slightly. As of Oct. 28, Lake Buchanan levels were up to 37 percent capacity and Lake Travis levels were up to 34 percent capacity. The combined storage capacity for both lakes has risen to 35 percent capacity.

LCRA says the two lakes provide water for more than a million central Texans as well as businesses, industries and the environment throughout the lower Colorado River basin. But the Authority warns that only rainfall and inflows produced by that rainfall can fill the lakes, and much more rain is needed.

Lakes Travis and Buchanan provide water for more than one million Central Texans and industries, businesses, agriculture and the environment throughout the lower Colorado River basin. LCRA says they made the initial request to waive the environmental requirements for 120 days or until enough rain falls to increase the combined storage of lakes Travis and Buchanan to 900,000 acre-feet (about 45 percent of capacity). If more rain is not forthcoming in November, they say they will proceed with the request.

The Matagorda Bay system is the second largest estuary on the Texas Gulf Coast. It provides an excellent nursery and feeding area for many species of fish, shrimp, shellfish and other marine life. Because of the serious, prolonged drought, the amount of freshwater flowing into the bay is at historically low levels, and the salinity level, or salt content, is higher than is generally considered suitable for many of the juvenile marine organisms that use the estuary to grow and develop.

 

More from Southwest Farm Press:

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