The LCRA Board of Directors approved four resolutions related to the LCRA-SAWS Water Project, giving guidance focused on protecting and benefitting the lower Colorado River basin. As work on the feasibility studies progresses, LCRA staff requested guidance on key policy assumptions related to: projections for firm municipal and industrial water needs in the lower Colorado River basin; planning for expected needs for agricultural irrigation; use of groundwater for agricultural needs and how water reserved for future use should be factored into the project studies.
“During our deliberations over the past 12 months, the LCRA Board has dedicated a tremendous amount of time and energy to understand the status of the studies and consider the diverse needs in the lower Colorado River basin. We want to be sure the needs of the basin are met even as population grows and needs increase. We look forward to continuing our partnership with SAWS to address these water issues on a regional basis,” said LCRA Board Chair Rebecca Klein.
The LCRA-SAWS Water Project is a water-sharing proposal to develop alternative supplies and conserve water that could help meet long-term needs in the lower Colorado River basin and the San Antonio area. LCRA and the San Antonio Water System (SAWS) are in the fifth year of an in-depth study of the proposal’s technical, environmental and financial feasibility.
At its Dec. 17 meeting, the Board directed staff to include in the project studies: updated water projections for municipal and industrial growth that is occurring and was not reflected in previous planning projections; adequate water supplies to meet agricultural water needs on an interruptible basis; and limitations on groundwater use for dry periods when there is not enough surface water. The Board also directed that 50,000 acre-feet of water reserved in LCRA’s Water Management Plan will be kept in reserve and that LCRA will explore opportunities to make water supply available to the project.
LCRA staff will incorporate the guidance from the Board into the feasibility studies and will have results in spring 2009 that will show whether project requirements can be met and how much water may be available for SAWS. Project plans call for state and federal permit applications to be filed within the next two years and a draft implementation plan to be presented to the LCRA Board of Directors in 2015. At that time, the LCRA Board must find that the project will adequately protect and benefit the lower Colorado River basin in order for the project to go forward. Also, the SAWS Board of Trustees must determine whether the amount of water and cost meets SAWS’ needs.
“LCRA staff is committed to incorporating the Board’s guidance and sharing the study results with the stakeholders throughout the basin,” said LCRA General Manager Thomas G. Mason. LCRA will hold project update meetings on Feb. 3 in El Campo and Feb. 5 in Burnet. Meeting details can be found at www.lcra.org/lswp/news/2008_1212.html.