The Lower Colorado River Authority is expected to vote Jan. 8 on a recommendation that would potentially cut off Lake Travis water to downstream rice farmers under existing conditions.
The board previously voted Nov. 14 to allow up to 121,500 acre-feet of water downstream for southeastern Texas agricultural irrigation efforts if the Highland Lakes' combined storage reached at least 775,000 acre-feet on Jan. 1 or March 1. The lakes collectively held approximately 825,000 acre-feet to start 2013.
But under the newly proposed guidelines, LCRA would only release 121,500 acre-feet of water if lake storage reaches at least 850,000 acre-feet on March 1. No water was released downstream in 2012 because of the same emergency order set in place by LCRA and approved by Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.
LCRA General Manager Becky Motal asked Dec. 20 that the TCEQ delay acting on the previous recommendation until LCRA's board convenes to reconsider its recommendation.
“We’re in the middle of what may be the worst drought in history,” Motal said in a news release. “It would be confusing for TCEQ to rule on one request from LCRA and then turn around and possibly be faced with another request. If the board modifies its request, there would still be plenty of time for TCEQ to rule on it because the first agricultural releases, if there are any, would not occur until mid-March."
LCRA board members plan to hold a special meeting Jan. 8 to review the newest proposal.