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LCRA drops water reserve amounts; sells more to Horseshoe Bay, Leander

Horseshoe Bay water plant filtration system

Part of the filtration system at one of Horseshoe Bay’s two water plants that treats water from Lake LBJ to make it safe for consumer use. The Lower Colorado River Authority doubled the amount of water the city has in its firm water use contract during a meeting Wednesday, Oct. 19. Courtesy photo

The amount of water required to be left on reserve in lakes Buchanan and Travis for firm water users was lowered to 35,000 acre-feet per year from 40,500 acre-feet per year. The Lower Colorado River Authority Board of Directors made the change at its regular meeting Wednesday, Oct. 19. 

Since the LCRA has 45,600 acre-feet of firm water inventory available each year, the change gives it a total 10,600 acre-feet for sale to firm water users. Of that, the board approved selling a total of 9,225 acre-feet above their current allotments to Horseshoe Bay and Leander.

“The proposed action will allow LCRA to continue to enter into new firm water contracts for available firm supply that, after executed, will contribute increased revenues in the form of reservation fees and water use fees,” Vice President of Water Resources Monica Masters reported to the board in a presentation before the vote. “With that reduction, about 1,400 acre-feet would remain available for additional contracting after the board approves the two pending water contracts.”

The LCRA has reserved 40,500 acre-feet in lakes Travis and Buchanan since 1989.

The city of Horseshoe Bay doubled its reserved water supply to 4,450 acre-feet from 2,225 acre-feet, which will generate an additional $170,000 in reservation fees annually for LCRA. The contract is for 40 years.

“Revenue will increase as water under the contract is used,” Masters said.

Horseshoe Bay, which is experiencing significant growth, pumps its water from Lake LBJ. The city’s current population of 8,000 is expected to double in the next 10 years, according to figures from the city.

Leander also extended its 40-year contract, adding 7,000 acre-feet to its current contract amount of 24,000 acre-feet. After approval by the LCRA board, Leander now has a contract for 41,000 acre-feet annually, generating about $540,000 in additional revenues for the LCRA.

Leander covers about 48,700 acres of land in Travis and Williamson counties. Its 2021 population of 86,880 is expected to increase to 225,000 by 2042, according to figures from the city.