Williamson County resolution to review LCRA water management plan fails

A resolution regarding the Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA) water management plan failed at Tuesday's Williamson County Commissioners Court meeting.

Jo Karr Tedders with the Central Texas Water Coalition was at the meeting hoping a message would be sent regarding the plan. "You don't see the flaws in the plan until we are in a crisis, and you see what doesn't work," said Tedders.

Pct 1 Commissioner Terry Cook issued the resolution for LCRA to move up its review of its water management plan to now instead of in 2025.

"We can't wait until we don't have, and say now what do we do. We need to be looking at, what do we do, starting today, in fact it should have started last year," said cook.

Other members of the Commissioners Court questioned the idea of getting between LCRA and communities the agency serves, including Austin, Cedar Park and Leander.

When questioned by Commissioner Valerie Covey, Cook said she had not spoken directly to the cities but noted Travis and Burnet County commissioners passed similar resolutions.

"I think it would be very presumptuous of us to jump into this before we hear from those cities," said Pct 2 Commissioner Cynthia Long.

County Judge Bill Gravell said he was on board with the concept for the resolution but didn’t vote for it. "The only reason why I can't support it is because I feel like we are telling LCRA what to do, and it's not our lane," he said.

The idea of moving up the review was also opposed by Earl Foster with the Highland Lakes Firm Water Customers Cooperative. "I don't think by opening it up you are going to do anything to keep water in the lake, today," he said.

The resolution failed due to the lack of a second.

"We can fix what doesn't work," said Foster.

There may be time for making adjustments. LCRA projects the combined storage of Lakes Travis and Buchanan is expected to stay above the next conservation advisory trigger point. Even with that buffer, Foster believes communities in the customer co-op should take preemptive action.

"I'll be recommending that we all move to a one-day outdoor irrigation as early as September first," said Foster.

Getting everyone on board with that idea will not be easy. The extra measure would have to be approved by multiple boards and city councils which will take time to achieve.

Officials with LCRA sent FOX 7 Austin a statement as to why water was still being released down the Colorado River.

"LCRA is releasing water from Lake Travis to complete the allocation for the first growing season for agricultural customers in Wharton, Colorado and Matagorda counties. No allocation of water from the highland lakes will be available for agricultural customers in the gulf coast, lakeside and pierce ranch agricultural operations for the second growing season under the TCEQ-approved water management plan due to the ongoing drought conditions.

In addition, LCRA is releasing water from Lake Travis to help meet the needs of water customers and to supplement the flow of the lower river when needed to help meet environmental flow requirements. Cities that draw from the Highland Lakes and Colorado River downstream of Mansfield Dam include the cities of Austin and Pflugerville, the West Travis County Public Utility agency, the Lost Pines Power Park, the Fayette Power Project, industrial customers in Matagorda County and others. Environmental flow requirements include TCEQ requirements to maintain instream flows along the lower Colorado River and supply freshwater inflows to Matagorda Bay and estuary."