Water experts and lawmakers hold emergency summit to discuss drought

Lake Travis (Mark Batchelder/KXAN)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — One state lawmaker says if the LCRA managed our water better, we might not be in as severe of a drought as we are currently.

That’s the same thing a report from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality said over the weekend.

With Texas expected to double the size of its population in the next 50 years, experts say the availability of water can and will limit our economic growth.

Senator Troy Fraser believes the LCRA made mistakes along the way.

“We needed to change the way we managed the lake. In time of the drought we had to manage it differently,”  Fraser said.

Over the weekend, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, also known as TCEQ, proposed major changes to the way LCRA distributes water from the Highland Lakes chain.

“We think maybe we’ve been in this drought for 6 or 7 years and I begin to encourage LCRA to no longer release water because our inflows in the lake are not sufficient,” Fraser said.

TCEQ says that if higher cutoff levels for downstream agriculture were used during extraordinarily dry conditions in 2011, we could have preserved at least 50 percent of the water that was released.

Jay Bragg with the Texas Farm Bureau says, “We’ve been in a multi-year drought. It appears that it’s going to be a continued trend so we have to make the best use of water available.

The LCRA will vote on whether to adopt TCEQ’s changes to the water plan by September 1st.

Otherwise the decision will be handed to a judge.

“The stark reality is that Mother Nature, not LCRA, caused this drought,” Bill Lauderback, the Executive Vice President of Public Affairs for LCRA said in a statement. “In the meantime, LCRA is doing everything it can to efficiently manage the resources of the lower Colorado River, including having taken the unprecedented action of cutting off Highland Lakes water to most interruptible agricultural customers for the last three years in a row.”

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