The Lower Colorado River Authority is aggressively moving forward on plans to acquire land for downstream water reservoirs to reduce demands on the Highland Lakes. In August, LCRA acquired options to purchase 1,745 acres in three parcels in Colorado County and 2,407 acres in two parcels in Wharton County.The LCRA Board of Directors authorized General Manager Becky Motal to negotiate and execute contracts for the purchase of an additional 1,100 acres near Markham in Matagorda County and 378 acres near Lane City in Wharton County. Once contracts are signed, LCRA will study the feasibility of building reservoirs on the sites before deciding whether to complete the purchases.The reservoirs would provide LCRA with a way to capture significant amounts of water in the lower basin for the first time.The land would allow LCRA to build as many as three off-channel reservoirs in the lower basin. Each of the reservoirs could be filled several times a year, depending on river flow and water use, thereby reducing water demands on the Highland Lakes and increasing the water supply in the entire basin."This is the last piece of the puzzle for development of new water supplies in the lower basin," said John C. Dickerson III of Matagorda County, a member of the LCRA Board of Directors. "This demonstrates the commitment of the Board and general manager to develop new supplies to benefit the entire lower Colorado River basin."The reservoirs could be used to capture flood waters or water that enters the Colorado River below the Highland Lakes. It also could be used to hold water that was sent downstream from the Highland Lakes for use by municipal, industrial or agricultural customers, but was no longer needed by the time it arrived.The reservoirs would be near, but not on, the Colorado River. Water from the river would be diverted to the reservoirs during times of flooding or excess flows and sent to downstream customers when needed."LCRA has been talking about the need for downstream reservoirs for as long as I can remember, and I'm excited to be on the Board that is making it happen," said J. Scott Arbuckle, an LCRA Board member from Wharton County. "These projects are a big step toward helping us fulfill our promise to secure 100,000 acre-feet of new water supply in the next five years."This year alone, about three quarters of a million acre-feet of water has flowed over the Bay City dam on the Colorado River near the coast. LCRA now has no way to capture that water, other than a small pilot project testing whether two gravel pits can be used as temporary storage reservoirs. By way of comparison, Lake Travis, when full, holds 1.13 million acre-feet of water."We're looking forward to studying the sites," said Kyle Jensen, LCRA Executive Manager of External Affairs. "These locations appear to be well-suited for reservoirs, but we've still got work ahead of us to determine whether they are the best answer to meeting our water supply goals."