LCRA publishes proposed water plan, recommends more flexible management | Salsa Verde
The Lower Colorado River Authority posted its proposed water management plan this morning, a 226-page document that details how the river authority that provides water for cities including Austin will manage it’s supplies in the future.
The plan would allow more flexible management of the river basin by the LCRA, such as setting separate triggers for allocating water to downstream rice farmers’ first and seconds crops. The current plan allocates water for rice farmers based on a Jan. 1 trigger point. (Emergency actions by the LCRA allowed them to break from the current plan and set different cutoffs for rice farmers, many of whom will likely be without LCRA water this year.)
The plan contains a two-phased curtailment procedure for all areas of the basin — farm irrigation, municipal use and environmental flows — that factors in expected changes in demand. The plan said the first phase is designed for “interim demands,” between 2010 to 2020, and the second is designed for 2020 demands.
The proposal also caps the amount of water downstream farmers would get each year. Currently, farmers can get unlimited water if the Highland Lakes are full enough.
The plan was put together with input from an advisory committee representing different basin interests, including the City of Austin, residents and businesses on lakes Travis and Buchanan, rice farmers and environmental groups.
The water plan now needs approval by the LCRA’s board of directors, who are expected to vote in the Feb. 22 monthly meeting. If approved, the plan still needs regulatory approval by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, which must act within a year of having a complete application from the LCRA.
The river authority said it is taking emailed comments on the plan until Feb. 9, which can be sent to email@example.com.
“This is a vitally important plan that affects everyone in the region,” LCRA General Manager Becky Motal said in a statement “We want to encourage everyone to take some time and take a look at what’s being proposed and let us know what you think.”