A July 15 meeting between LCRA and water customers focused on serious drought conditions, importance of water conservation, and the potential for mandatory watering restrictions by August.
LCRA staff met with more than 50 people who represent many of LCRA’s municipal and industrial raw water customers. Presentations included updates on the ongoing drought conditions that are classified as “extreme” to “exceptional” throughout the lower Colorado River watershed, water storage projections, water conservation, and measures that LCRA has taken and will take under its state-approved plan if conditions persist.
“Our region is experiencing a very serious drought. The customer meeting was an important opportunity to share information and ideas with our customers. We all must work together to manage through these challenging times,” said Mark Jordan, LCRA manager of River Management.
“The current drought has lasted more than 22 months,” Jordan said. “During this time, we have seen record high temperatures in many areas, a rainfall deficit of more than two feet here in Austin, and record low inflows into the Highland Lakes.” We haven’t been this dry since the worst drought on record, which occurred during the 1950s.”
LCRA and its water customers discussed LCRA’s state-approved Water Management Plan. LCRA follows the plan to ensure adequate supplies during droughts and already has taken actions required by the plan.
The plan calls for LCRA to take actions when water storage levels fall below set triggers, including reducing releases for environmental needs, cutting back water for agricultural customers, and working with its wholesale municipal and industrial customers to implement mandatory water-use restrictions.
Projections show that the combined water storage level in lakes Buchanan and Travis could fall below 900,000 acre-feet by mid- to late August, which would trigger LCRA to ask its water customers to implement mandatory water-use restrictions under their drought contingency plans. Mandatory restrictions could include measures such as limiting car washing, pool filling and lawn watering to certain days and limiting the use of ornamental fountains.
The water storage level on July 24 was below 1 million acre-feet. An acre-foot is equal to about 326,000 gallons of water.
LCRA also anticipates cutting back water supplies next year for agricultural irrigation customers under provisions of the Water Management Plan if water storage levels remain below 1.1 million acre-feet on Jan. 1, 2010.
LCRA urges all water users to use water wisely. Residents should water their lawns no more than twice a week, check sprinkler systems for leaks, and add mulch to flower beds.
Keep up to date on drought conditions at www.lcra.org/droughtupdate. Learn how to save water at www.lcra.org/savewater.