AUSTIN, Texas — Editor's note: The attached video is about the LCRA lowering some lakes until Feb. 28.

The Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA) announced on Thursday that the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) has approved an updated water management plan that will govern the management of lakes Buchanan and Travis.

The LCRA submitted the updated plan for approval in 2019 after meeting with groups in the lower Colorado River basin.

“This plan has greater protections for ‘firm’ customers such as cities and industries, while at the same time providing interruptible water for downstream agricultural operations,’’ said Phil Wilson, LCRA general manager. “The plan also continues to provide water to help protect the health of the river and Matagorda Bay.”

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The updated plan limits the maximum amount of "interruptible" stored water available for most downstream agricultural use from 202,000 acre-feet for the first growing season down to 178,000 acre-feet. The amount of water for the second growth season will lower to 66,000 acre-feet from 76,500 acre-feet.

Additionally, the plan does the following:

  • Maintains storage in lakes Travis and Buchanan above 600,000 acre-feet through a repeat of the worst drought this region has seen.
  • Includes the latest available hydrology.
  • Uses projected water demands through 2025.
  • Continues to require releases from the lakes to help meet specific flow conditions in the river downstream of Austin and for the health of Matagorda Bay.
  • For the first time, it sets a maximum limit on the amount of stored water that can be released from the lakes for interruptible customers. 
  • Includes a new limit on the amount that can be released from the lakes for interruptible users. This accounts for water that may be lost in transit along the more than 180 river miles from the Highland Lakes downstream to Colorado, Wharton and Matagorda counties, and water that is ordered but not needed by the time it arrives several days later.

The first water management plan was approved in 1989 and was most recently updated in 2015.

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