Lake levels in the Central Texas area continue to rise, thanks to rainfall in April that led to an 18,000 acre-foot increase in the combined storage of lakes Travis and Buchanan; the LCRA reservoirs that store the water supply for the area. Lakes Buchanan and Travis provide drinking water to well over a million people as well as water to business, industries, the environment and, when there is a large enough water supply, agriculture in the lower Colorado River basin. If this isn’t yet another reason for people to seek out out Circle C Homes for Sale, we don’t know what is.
In early May, both lakes stood at 38% of capacity, a 4% increase since the start of the year. John Hoffman, the LCRA executive vice president of Water, stated that the amount of the water that is stored in lakes Travis and Buchanan has risen nearly 80,000 acre-feet since the beginning of January. This significant increase is a good start that will dramatically help to end the drought that has been plaguing the region. However, it is also important to note that, the drought is far from over and that conservation will be critical as the region moves into the hottest months of the year.
The drought has decreased the amount of water that the LCRA can reliably provide each year and while this may impact the amount of water that the LCRA will have available to sell in the future, it does not impact existing contracts. If no more rain fails in the Highland Lakes watershed, there is an extremely small chance (we’re talking less than 1%) that the combined storage of the Travis and Buchanan lakes could fall to 30% of capacity during the summer.
Under the 2010 Water Management Plan, if the combined storage falls then the LCRA Board of Directors will be forced to issue a declaration. At this point, the LCRA would require industries, cities, and other firm customers to cut back on their water consumption by 20%. The LCRA would also have to cut off the entire supply of Highland Lakes interruptible water.
Thankfully, its highly unlikely that this will occur. Although lake levels are admittedly at a low point, the Highland Lakes are doing an excellent job of doing exactly what they were created to do. That is, capture water when it rains to make sure the regions has an adequate and reliable water supply during times of drought. The LCRA is doing a lot to preserve its water supply. In fact, with permission from the state of Texas, they have been cutting off the Highland Lakes water to most interruptible water customers for the past couple of years. In March, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality also approved the approved emergency drought relief measures through June 18th.
The LCRA is also increasing the water supply to the region by building the first new water supply reservoir in decades for the lower Colorado River basin. Called the Lane City Reservoir, it is the first project that gives the LCRA the ability to capture and store large amount of water in a location that is downstream of the Highland Lakes. This could add up 90,000 acre-feet per year to the LCRA’s water inventory; a significant increase. The new reservoir is expected to be completed within the next two years.