Task force considers new water supply options as drought deepens

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Groups looking for ways to solve the Central Texas drought crisis talked about options for new water supply at a meeting Monday.

The drought means our lakes are at risk of hitting critically low levels. And as water supply decreases, water rates are starting to increase.

“We’re at a really critical juncture here in the city of Austin where our rates are quickly becoming unaffordable,” said Sharlene Leurig, the chair of the Austin Water Resource Planning Task Force.

At the meeting, members of the task force heard from Austin Water staff, outlining a wide variety of options to address water concerns. They discussed everything from applying a biodegradable powder to lakes in an effort to reduce evaporation, to increasing control of the Longhorn Dam. They also mulled limiting water released downstream and lowering Lake Austin during non-peak seasons to limit how much water is released from lakes Travis and Buchanan. Some people attending the meeting spoke up for more at-home conservation.

“To me conservation is where we can do wonders,” said one woman who spoke at the meeting.

“Conservations is still the cheapest,” said a man who stood up and spoke.

Leurig agrees, saying the solution in part is about altering habits.

“This is not just about technical planning, and it’s not just about the decisions Austin Water can make,” she said. “It’s up to everyone in the community to change the way that we manage and value this resource.”

The task force will take their recommendations to Austin City Council June 20.

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