LCRA wants to temporarily stop water releases downstream


by KRIS BETTS / KVUE News and photojournalist MATT OLSEN

Bio | Email | Follow: @KrisB_KVUE

Posted on September 18, 2013 at 10:26 PM

Updated Wednesday, Sep 18 at 11:41 PM

AUSTIN -- Lakes Travis and Buchanan are close to hitting record lows, so on Wednesday the LCRA board voted to ask permission to stop sending water downstream to Matagorda Bay.

"We're approaching that 600,000 acre-feet trigger point, and that's mandatory 20 percent curtailment for all of our firm customers," LCRA Manager of Water Operations Ryan Rowney said.

That means cities like Austin will hit stage three water restrictions.

Rowney says the board did not make this decision lightly, considering how important the water is to Matagorda Bay.

"The health of the oysters and the shrimp and all the other life that depends on that mix of fresh water and salt water," Rowney said.

A representative for Ducks Unlimited told the LCRA board that "Cities and communities are criticizing and politicizing other water uses, while not taking a hard look in the mirror at their non-essential use."

The Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club agrees.

"I think it's akin to cutting off life support to matagorda bay," said Jennifer Walker with the Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club.

But the general manager for The Oasis, Jonathan Silva, says water here is just as important and not only for recreational use.

"Now it's destabilizing everything here at the lake. Carlos and Charlie’s is out -- and a lot of people used to live and work out here, now they can't do so," Silva said.

Ultimately the LCRA says their goal is to meet the needs of cities and industry with what little water they can.

The TCEQ is expected to make a decision on that emergency relief request next month.

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