Workshop to focus on water supplies, planning

BURNET — The impact on the Highland Lakes’ water supply from anticipated population growth will be on the minds of Burnet County leaders Friday during a workshop.

The Burnet County Commissioners plan to focus on the proposed Lower Colorado River Authority Water Supply Resource Plan during the session, which is 10 a.m. at the Burnet Community Center, 401 E. Jackson St.

Rapid population growth in each of 14 counties within LCRA’s jurisdiction will put greater stress on water supplies in the future, officials have said. The Burnet County population may more than double during the next 90 years, from 47,300 this year to 168,000 by 2100, LCRA officials have said.

"Water is our most important commodity as we move into the future," Precinct 1 Commissioner Bill Neve said.

The resource plan will serve as a guide for the development of firm water supplies through 2100, according to LCRA officials.

Firm water is how much water LCRA can supply to cities, businesses and industries in the Highland Lakes and nearby areas during a repeat of the drought of record or the worst-recorded drought in the lower river basin.

The Highland Lakes just suffered through a 2.5-year drought that dropped lake levels to near-record lows and triggered watering restrictions, officials said.

LCRA Water Resource Planning Manager James Kowis will lead the discussion during the meeting, which is hosted by the commissioners.

Several options are being considered to prepare for anticipated population increases, including maximum use of existing water rights; significant water conservation and wastewater reuse; the construction of off-channel reservoirs downstream; a pipeline to bring water from downstream reservoirs to Travis County; desalination of sea water or groundwater; storing water for future use in aquifers; and the purchase and import of groundwater.

It may cost up to $1.6 billion to implement all of the options, LCRA officials have estimated.

LCRA officials have asked the public to complete an opinion survey to help determine the best strategy for the development of water resources during the next nine decades.

An online survey is available through Friday at www.lcra.org/water supply.

raymond@thepicayune.com

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