Central Texas Water Coalition wants LCRA to change management strategy for drought response

Lake Buchanan is currently about 71% full. The declining level here and along the Highland Lakes Chain prompted LCRA to enter into what’s called Drought Response Stage 1.

A main part of this response involves cutting off the flow of water downstream to rice farmers. The move also is a request to local water utilities to voluntarily reduce consumption by 5%.

"I think it was too little too late," said Jim Maury, who lives along Lake Buchanan and who is also with the Central Texas Water Coalition.

The group wanted the agency to restrict the Agricultural water release back in March. Members are now calling on LCRA to rethink its water strategy

"One that is more geared towards the current status of the weather, and the population. And one that is more geared towards the 21st-century and does a forward look to the drinking water supply, more protective of drinking water," said Maury.

LCRA updated its water Management plan in 2020. This is the first time under the plan that water to southeast Texas farmers is being cutoff. 

In a statement released Saturday, LCRA executive Vice President of Water John Hofmann said:

"We have plenty of drinking water supplies available in the Highland Lakes, but we need to start tapping the brakes on water use because we don’t know when this drought will end."

It has been more than 18 months since Lake Buchanan and Travis were last full. That, along with limited rain water flowing into the lakes, were the bigs factors into LCRA’s drought response. 

For people like Barbra Bingham who went through the drought in 2011, the call to conserve is understandable. But she admits it’s also a hard choice.

"I guess I will, I’ll go to maybe once a week watering, I’ll hand water, but I’m not going to lose my yard, we spent a fortune on our yard, and I’m just not going to lose it," said Bingham.

LCRA’s effort to keep water flowing to residents comes with the expectation that water levels at Lake Buchanan and Travis will continue to drop through the summer.

That’s why more rain water collection tanks, like the one Jim Maury built for his home, may be seen throughout the Hill Country.