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LCRA eyes community marina moratorium

High Crest development in Granite Shoals

The proposed High Crest development would include a marina on Lake LBJ in Granite Shoals. The Lower Colorado River Authority could put a moratorium on any new marinas while staff rewrites the Highland Lakes Marina Ordinance to deal with boat congestion on the lakes. Courtesy map

A moratorium on accepting new and amendment applications for community marinas in any part of the Highland Lakes will become effective immediately if approved by the Lower Colorado River Authority Board of Directors at its meeting Wednesday, Aug. 17, in Austin. The moratorium is scheduled to last no later than June 1, 2023.

“Community marinas were intended to concentrate the number of boat slips in the community marina and limit the proliferation of numerous residential docks along the shoreline, thereby maintaining navigability in coves and the lakes,” reads the agenda item. “However, recent applications for community marinas have demonstrated that the navigability protections that were intended … no longer are being achieved.” 

The result has been an increase in boat congestion, conflicts, and public safety concerns, the agenda continues. 

If approved by the board, the LCRA plans to publish its proposed amendments to the Highland Lakes Marina Ordinance and give the public a chance to submit comments. 

GOLF COURSE IRRIGATION

Also on the agenda is an item that involves renewing a firm water contract for irrigation of an 18-hole golf course at Lakecliff Dream LLC on Lake Travis. The contract is to supply the entity up to 642 acre-feet of water a year for a term of 10 years. It will generate about $50,000 a year in revenue. 

Lakecliff Dream is a 250-acre golf course community in Spicewood. The water is used to irrigate landscapes, common areas, and the golf course.

WATER MANAGEMENT PLAN & DREDGING CONCERNS

Public comments may be the most interesting part of the meeting, although planned speakers are bringing up topics not on the agenda.

Neither the water management plan nor the LCRA’s dredging policy in the Highland Lakes will be discussed by board members, despite the fact that several people are expected to show up to speak on both matters for a second time this summer. 

Several members of the Central Texas Water Alliance plan to attend, and President Jo Karr Tedder will request the LCRA reopen its water management plan three years earlier than planned.

“The water management plan needs to be more protective of the upper basin for Central Texas,” Tedder told DailyTrib.com during an interview for a series of stories on water in the Highland Lakes. “We want to partner with LCRA and work together, but they are not open to dialoguing.” 

Cindy Smiley, an Austin-based attorney representing the coalition, spoke at the June LCRA meeting on the topic.  

“We are asking you to initiate a targeted review of the water management plan this year with this focus: review of the specific elements of the plan that have the greatest impact on the sustainability of the upstream water supply,” Smiley said at the June meeting. 

Since then, Tedder has asked several government entities to pass a resolution seeking an updated water management plan. The resolution requesting that the LCRA reopen the plan was approved by commissioners in Burnet, Travis, and Hays counties and the Bee Cave City Council. Williamson County discussed the resolution, but it died for lack of a second. The proposal did not make it onto a Llano County Commissioners Court agenda in time for the August LCRA meeting. 

The LCRA has told DailyTrib.com, its firm water customers, and local governments, including the Burnet County Commissioners Court and the cities of Marble Falls and Granite Shoals, that it does not intend to reopen the plan until it is scheduled for an update in 2025. 

“The water management plan is functioning as designed,” LCRA General Manager Phil Wilson wrote in a letter sent to firm water customers. “The plan enables LCRA to adapt its operations as drought conditions change and requires LCRA to cut off or cut back water for interruptible agriculture customers in the lower basin as droughts worsen.” 

On July 2, the LCRA announced it was curtailing water releases from the Highland Lakes previously scheduled for a second rice growing season downstream. Firm water customers were also asked to conserve water usage by 5 percent. 

Highland Lakes resident and Save Lake LBJ member Laura Patterson is expected to make a second appearance during public comments on Aug. 17 to discuss the LCRA’s dredging policies.

“I am someone who is concerned about LCRA and the new arbitrary changes to the dredge zone in the Llano arm (of Lake LBJ),” she wrote in an email to DailyTrib.com. 

She plans to press the board to change a recently approved policy that gives the general manager authority to determine dredge zones. 

suzanne@thepicayune.com