Water for farmers? – TCEQ Director approves LCRA’s emergency drought relief

May 1, 2018 0 By Ericka  Her

TCEQ – In Nov. 2012, Lower Colorado River Authority requested emergency relief from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality related to its Water Management Plan due to persistent drought conditions in the Highland Lakes.  LCRA filed an Amended and Supplemental application for emergency relief with the TCEQ on Jan. 11, 2013 based on worsening drought conditions and with unanimous board support.

In response to LCRA’s request and the continuing drought conditions, the TCEQ’s Executive Director Zak Covar today signed an emergency order temporarily establishing a different process for curtailment of interruptible stored water for the LCRA.

This order modifies LCRA’s Water Management Plan to provide interruptible stored water for the first crop for downstream agricultural irrigators based on the combined storage of Lakes Buchanan and Travis on Mar. 1, if the combined storage is at or above 850,000 acre feet. If the combined storage is at or above 920,000 acre feet, the release will adhere to the LCRA’s then current Water Management Plan but based on Mar. 1 storage rather than Jan. 1 storage.

A supply of water for a second crop will be released if the combined storage of the two lakes is at or above 850,000 acre feet on Mar. 1, and at or above 950,000 acre feet on Jul. 1.   If the combined storage is at or above 920,000 acre feet on Mar. 1, the release will adhere to the LCRA’s then current Water Management Plan but based on Mar. 1 storage rather than Jan. 1 storage.

The order was issued in accordance with section 11.139 of the Texas Water Code. A hearing to affirm, modify or set aside this order will be held as part of the TCEQ commissioners’ regular agenda meeting on Feb. 13.

Requested Relief – excerpts from order

  1. A modified curtailment procedure for interruptible stored water would provide LCRA the ability to supply a reduced amount of interruptible stored water. Supplying a reduced amount of interruptible stored water, up to 121,500 acre feet, when the reservoirs are at or above the 8so,ooo acre feet storage level on March 1, 2013, greatly reduces the risk of reaching 6oo,ooo acre feet of combined storage and declaring a DWDR during first crop.
  2. Specifically, LCRA requests that it be allowed to implement a different process than required by the 2010 WMP for curtailment of interruptible stored water that would:
  3. Provide interruptible stored water for first crop based on the combined storage of Lakes Buchanan and Travis on March 1, 2013 (11:59 p.m.), as follows:

1) Provide no interruptible stored water to customers within Gulf Coast and Lakeside Divisions if the combined storage is below 8so,ooo acre-feet.

2) Provide up to 121,500 acre-feet of interruptible stored water for diversion for customers within Gulf Coast, Lakeside, Garwood and Pierce Ranch Operations if the combined storage is at or above 8so,ooo acre-feet and less than 920,000 acre-feet.

3) Provide interruptible stored water in accordance with the then current Water Management Plan if the combined storage is at or above 920,000 acre-feet based on March 1 storage instead of January 1 storage.

  1. Provide interruptible stored water for second crop based on the combined storage of Lakes Buchanan and Travis, as follows:

1) If the combined storage is at or above 8so,ooo acre-feet and below 920,000 acre feet on March 1, 2013 (11:59 p.m.), and combined storage is below 950,000 acre feet on July 1, 2013 (11:59 p.m.), provide no interruptible stored water to customers within Gulf Coast and Lakeside Divisions.

2) If the combined storage is at or above 8so,ooo acre-feet and below 920,000 acre-feet on March 1, 2013 2013 (11:59 p.m.), and the combined storage is at or above 950,000 acre feet on July 1, 2013 (11:59 p.m.), provide up to 50,000 acre feet of interruptible stored water for diversion for customers in Gulf Coast, Lakeside, Garwood and Pierce Ranch Operations.

3) If combined storage is at or above 920,000 acre-feet on March 1, 2013 (11:59 p.m.), provide interruptible stored water for the second crop in accordance with the then current Water Management Plan based on March 1 storage instead of January 1 storage.

  1. Provide interruptible stored water to Garwood and Pierce Ranch, in accordance with their contracts.