CONNIE SWINNEY • PICAYUNE STAFF
MEADOWLAKES — While area communities launch into once-a-week mandatory watering restrictions, one lakeside community utilizes more than 200-year-old water rights to set its own water-management plan and avoid restriction edicts from the Lower Colorado River Authority.
“We’re kind of unusual to some extent here,” Meadowlakes City Manager Johnnie Thompson said. “We actually own a lot of our water rights, where Marble Falls and some of those other folks have to contract with LCRA. We don’t contract with LCRA for our potable water or raw water use.”
As the cities of Marble Falls and Horseshoe Bay launched into mandatory Stage 3 watering restrictions in line with the LCRA Drought Contingency plan, which prohibits more than once-a-week lawn waterings, Meadowlakes maintains its own version of the mandatory Stage 2 twice-a-week watering schedule.
“We own 567 acre-feet of water. For the last several years, that’s more than adequate for our use,” Thompson said of the community of nearly 1,000 residents. An acre-foot of water is an area the size of a football field filled with one foot of water.
Bigger communities such as Burnet and Marble Falls, with populations from 5,900 to 6,100, enacted once-a-week watering restrictions.
While Marble Falls did so to comply with the water authority’s drought plans, the City of Burnet’s combined water wells and surface water resources provides leeway for restrictions.
“Since we were diversifying, all we had to do was save 10 percent, but we’re saving 60 percent off lake consumption because of the wells,” Burnet City Manager David Vaughn said.
The community utilizes well water for 60 percent of its population and surface water from Inks Lake for 40 percent.
Most water conservation measures for area cities that purchase water from the LCRA went into effect April 1.
Those communities, with the exception of Meadowlakes, face fines by the LCRA if they do not comply.
The City of Meadowlakes does keep a contract with LCRA, but use falls well below the annual need for the community.
“We’re contracted for 75 acre-feet of water (for supplemental water use for the golf course),” he said. “They have enough (treated effluent) to pretty much take care of watering the course how they need to.
“We’re not having to pay LCRA for the water a lot of others do,” Thompson said.
The city might become more restrictive with scheduling should the combined storage of lakes Buchanan and Travis fall below 750,000 acre-feet of water. The lakes are currently at 756,000 acre-feet of combined storage.
“We’re not far off,” he said. “Our residents actually have been very cooperative.”