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LCRA seeks new water supplies through 2080

Arbuckle Reservoir

The Arbuckle Reservoir under construction in Wharton will be the first significant new water supply developed by the Lower Colorado River Authority in decades. It will allow for the capture and storage of water downstream of the Highland Lakes. Wharton is about 200 miles southeast of Marble Falls. Courtesy photo

The Lower Colorado River Authority is evaluating a number of options to increase the amount of water available in high-growth areas like the Highland Lakes and Bastrop. 

“We are very focused on finding new water supplies,” said John Hofmann, LCRA executive vice president of Water in a media release. “The ‘easy’ water supplies have already been developed. The new solutions are going to be more expensive and more innovative.”

The LCRA Board of Directors, sitting as members of the Water Operations Committee, heard a staff presentation during the Sept. 20 meeting about updating the authority’s Water Supply Resource Report. The update is underway and should be completed by sometime in 2024. The report is a long-term plan for water supplies through 2080. 

New supplies could include storage in the mid-basin of the lower Colorado River, groundwater, return flows from Williamson County, direct potable reuse, pipelines, and aquifer storage and recovery.  

The Arbuckle Reservoir, set to come online in late 2024, will provide about 590,000 acre-feet per year of total firm water supply. Of that, about 450,000 acre-feet will be available in the area from the Highland Lakes to Wharton County. An acre-foot is about 326,000 gallons.

The target is is have an additional 60,000 acre-feet per year of water supply in the areas expected to experience the highest growth, including the Highland Lakes, Bastrop County, and along the Interstate 35-Texas 130 corridor.

The LCRA plans to seek public input as it works to prioritize future projects.