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TROUBLED WATERS: LCRA letter to cities explains stance on reevaluating water plan

LCRA General Manager Phil Wilson

Lower Colorado River Authority General Manager Phil Wilson sent a letter to firm water customers in the Highland Lakes defending the LCRA’s refusal to reevaluate its water management plan three years early. Courtesy photo

This story is one of a series on water issues in the Highland Lakes. The series kicked off in the August 2022 issue of The Picayune Magazine. For an up-to-date list, visit the Troubled Waters webpage.

Inflows into the Highland Lakes are the lowest on record, but the lakes are functioning as designed and will continue to meet the needs of Central Texas consumers, reads a letter Lower Colorado River Authority General Manager Phil Wilson sent to firm water customers the first week of August. 

City managers in Marble Falls and Granite Shoals each received the letter, which promises a fall meeting with local leaders to review the LCRA’s water management plan. It is on the agenda for the Granite Shoals City Council meeting Tuesday, Aug. 9. 

The letter is seemingly in response to the Central Texas Water Coalition’s efforts to have the LCRA revise its water management plan before 2025, when it is due

“We are aware of some concern over whether the plan is up to the task of protecting water for firm customers such as cities, businesses, and industries,” reads the letter. 

Coalition members are presenting a resolution to county commissioners courts seeking an early renewal of the plan. It was recently approved by Burnet and Travis county commissioners but rejected by Williamson County commissioners. It goes before the Hays County Commissioners Court on Aug. 9. The coalition also hopes to present the resolution to the Llano County Commissioners Court, but it was not on the Monday, Aug. 8, agenda. 

In the letter, Wilson states definitively that “LCRA is not beginning a revision process at this time,” a position he explained. 

“The (water management) plan is designed for projected demands for the year 2025, and the yearly demands we’ve seen to date have been below the 2025 projections,” he said in the letter. “Those projections are so fundamental to the (water management plan), they also are the basis for triggering the next revision process.”

A revision of the plan can begin earlier if certain triggers are met. One is if water usage reaches the normal/average-use demands projected for 2025 two years in a row. Another is if 90 percent of the max/high-usage demands of 2025 happen in a single year. Trigger dates are March 1 and July 1 of each year.

“Yearly water use to date has not reached either normal/average-use demands or max/high-use demands for 2025,” Wilson wrote. “When water use for 2022 data is available early next year, we will evaluate where we are in relation to those triggers to determine whether beginning the update process then is warranted.” 

Although the LCRA does not plan to discuss reopening the water plan at its next Board of Directors meeting on Aug. 17 in Austin, Jo Karr Tedder, president of the Central Texas Water Coalition, and other members plan to be there to speak during public comment. 

“If we open (the water management plan) now, instead of waiting until 2025, it might help us survive this drought if it continues,” Tedder told DailyTrib.com. “We decided to do the resolution now because when you’re in a drought, you can see the flaws in the plan.”

suzanne@thepicayune.com

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