The Lower Colorado River Authority plans to continue a five-year focus on rehabilitating the Mansfield and Lake Buchanan dams to ensure their continued safe and effective operation, critical for water supplies and flood management, according to a May release laying out the Authority’s 2019 plans.
“With the fiscal year 2019 business and capital plans, we are crystallizing our vision of supporting this growing state and continue to work to provide excellent customer service when providing these diverse and important services,” said Timothy Timmerman, chairman of the LCRA board of directors.
LCRA meets or exceeds all state regulations for dam safety, according to the release. Its safety program includes weekly and monthly inspections by LCRA staff; floodgate testing every 30-42 days; annual inspections by LCRA engineers; and additional inspections by third-party consulting engineers.
Also part of the FY 2019-2020 plan, LCRA plans to spend $126 million in capital spending over the next five years to increase regional water supplies amid forecasts of higher demand, the release showed. The Authority plans to begin operations at the Arbuckle Reservoir in early 2019.
It is the first new water supply reservoir in the lower Colorado River basin in decades, and it is important to the Highland Lakes chain since it could add 90,000 acre-feet of firm water to the region’s supply. Firm water is available even during a severe drought, according to the release.
In October, LCRA began a nine-month, $1.9 million project to recoat the bridge at the top of Mansfield Dam, which separates Lake Travis and Austin. The Authority is currently in the midst of an 11-year, $10.5 million refurbishment project of the dam that includes renovations to 80-year-old floodgates.
Mansfield Dam created Lake Travis when it opened in 1942; it is the only lake in the Highland Lakes chain with the capability to store water as well as prevent flooding and erosion downstream.