Lower Colorado River Authority General Manager Phil Wilson presents the 'State of the LCRA' to local leaders at a luncheon in Horseshoe Bay on Aug. 24. Staff photo by Suzanne Freeman
Along with a series of planned stories on water issues in the Highland Lakes, which kicked off in the August 2022 issue of The Picayune Magazine, the DailyTrib.com is following water news as it happens. For an up-to-date list of all the water stories, visit the Troubled Waters webpage.
Yes, the water management plan was part of the presentation given to local leaders at the Lower Colorado River Authority’s “State of the LCRA” luncheon in Horseshoe Bay on Wednesday, Aug. 24, but that was not all that was on the plate.
Along with rare roast beef, chicken piccata, green beans, and mashed potatoes, General Manager Phil Wilson and other members of LCRA’s top management served up facts and figures on the cost of maintaining the dams, investments in transmission, and how the authority has kept power costs low. He discussed the LCRA’s development of solar energy and how it supports economic development in the communities it serves.
Dam maintenance: More than $134 million has been invested since 2010; plans to invest more than $107 million from 2023-27.
Transmission: Invested a record-breaking $458 million in capital investments in fiscal year 2022; planning to invest about $2.2 billion over the next five years.
Wholesale power: Rates have remained stable and competitive, costs controlled, debt lowered.
Solar energy: 141 megawatts from Juno Solar project in Borden County; 10 megawatts from Mars Solar project in Webb County; evaluating new projects.
Radio system: More than 100 cities, counties, electric utilities, and other public safety entities use the LCRA radio system, which covers more than 50,000 square-miles.
Community: Awarded 1,888 grants for more than $48.7 million in the Community Development Partnership program; donated $230 million in community-raised matching funds for a total investment of $278 million.
Broadband: Owns about 3,700 right-of-way miles, 2,200 of which already include fiber; plans to add fiber to another 1,200 miles in the next five years.
In the 2021 Texas Legislature session, lawmakers passed Senate Bill 632 authorizing the LCRA to provide fiber capacity or facilities to enable broadband service connectivity.
“We will not be internet providers, but we will serve as the ‘middle mile’ for provision of broadband services,” Wilson said.
The answer from the LCRA repeatedly has been “no,” that the water management plan is doing its job. Wilson reiterated his point at the luncheon.
“Even with inflows at historic lows and well-below average rainfall, lakes Buchanan and Travis are still at about 56 percent full,” he said. “As of this week, there’s about 200,000 acre-feet more in storage than there was in August 2011.”
The year 2011 was the worst single-year drought in Texas history.