The Lower Colorado River Authority’s Board of Directors approved its Water Supply Resource Plan Wednesday. The plan will act as a road map for meeting the lower Colorado River basin’s water needs to the year 2100. Those needs, according to the plan, could increase more than fourfold by the end of the century to about 670,000 acre-feet per year. Currently, LCRA has ample water to meet its customers’ needs for decades into the future through a repeat of the Drought of Record, the worst drought in recorded history. The Water Supply Resource Plan (WSRP) will help LCRA plan for and secure water supplies for the next 90 years.
"Through this plan, LCRA is working to ensure water supply for future generations," said Tom Mason, LCRA General Manager. "The Highland Lakes have met our region’s water needs and enabled economic growth and prosperity for more than 70 years. Now we have a plan to guide how we will meet the water needs of our grandchildren and great-grandchildren."
The plan outlines more than 20 water supply options ranging from amending LCRA’s existing water rights, which could cost about $5 million, to constructing off-channel reservoirs in the lower basin and piping the water to the Travis County area, which could cost about $1.6 billion. Other options include enhanced conservation programs, desalinating brackish groundwater or sea water, storing water in aquifers and recovering it when needed, and using groundwater conjunctively with surface water.
The plan also sets a margin of safety that triggers the process of evaluating in more detail options for new supplies when it has less than a 20-year supply of water left to commit. Based on historic growth in commitments against LCRA’s total water supply, the margin of safety is reached when LCRA’s contractual commitments exceed 450,000 acre-feet. Since LCRA has already committed about 458,000 acre-feet, it will therefore begin the process of conducting a more detailed evaluation of specific water supply options. The Board of Directors would have to approve implementation of any specific project.
“We have ample water to meet today's needs, but our region is growing and water is a finite resource," Mason said. "This plan lays out, in a transparent way, how LCRA may make water available to our customers in the future and the potential cost."
The planning process that led to the WSRP began in mid-2008 with input from the public on water supply options and planning priorities. Based on this input and technical analysis, LCRA staff prepared the plan that includes potential water supply projects, how much they could cost, and how the projects may affect available water for the environment, lake levels and downstream farmers.
“LCRA asked customers and stakeholders throughout the basin for their input when developing this plan,” said LCRA Board Chair Rebecca A. Klein. “Understanding the concerns and preferences of our customers is a vital step for planning for the region’s future water supply.”
To view the Water Supply Resource Plan go to http://www.lcra.org/water/watersupply/index.html.