About 40 people attended a town hall Aug. 23 hosted by the Central Texas Water Coalition, which included presentations from organization President Jo Karr Tedder and Central Texas Groundwater Conservation District General Manager Mitchell Sodek. Staff photo by Nathan Bush
The plan, which was adopted in 2020 and up for review in 2025, should be updated with current drought and weather information, said coalition President Jo Karr Tedder, who made the first of two presentations during the evening. The second presentation was by Central Texas Groundwater Conservation District General Manager Mitchell Sodek, who gave a brief update on the current state of groundwater levels across Burnet County.
Tedder showed images of the current conditions of several Highland Lakes juxtaposed with photos of what those lakes look like at regular water levels.
“Our focus is to have a more protective water plan for Central Texas,” she said. “It’s what it’s always been from day one.”
Tedder talked about California’s longtime drought to illustrate what could happen to Central Texas if, in the coalition’s opinion, the LCRA fails to act on the rapidly decreasing water levels throughout the area.
“I use California because they’ve been in a mega-drought for 22 years,” she said. “We’ve been in a drought. It goes three years, four years, and then it tapers off. That’s not what is happening now. John Nielsen-Gammon, a state climatologist, said ‘Get ready, because your droughts are going to start being droughts that last your lifetime.’”
During Sodek’s presentation on the state of groundwater in the area, he reminded the audience that Burnet County is currently in the worse phase of its drought management plan, which is Stage 4. Groundwater users, whether well water or cities, are being asked to voluntarily restrict their usage by 30 percent.
“We are managing for droughts,” Sodek said. “We’re not asking for any mandatory restrictions. We are asking people to conserve water.”
While the area has seen rain in recent days, Sodek is doubtful it will be enough to buck the current downward trend of groundwater levels in the area.
“I don’t think it will improve based on the rainfall that we have had,” he said. “I certainly don’t think our groundwater levels will improve unless we get significantly more rain.”
Tedder opened the meeting to public discussion, urging residents to bring the fight to the LCRA by going to board meetings and writing emails to the authority and elected officials, even if speaking about water might be difficult for some to articulate.
“Your elected officials have the ability to make a difference,” Tedder said. “It’s not always a comfortable thing to speak up about water because it’s so complicated. We still have to make them look at the water management plan and make it more protective.”
The Central Texas Water Coalition will hold another town hall at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 25, at the Oasis on Lake Travis, 6550 Comanche Trail in Austin.