LCRA contracts to release water to supplemental downstream users

John Hofmann, LCRA Executive Vice President of Water, addresses agency board members on April 19.

John Hofmann, LCRA Executive Vice President of Water, addresses agency board members on April 19.

The Lower Colorado River Authority Board of Directors unanimously approved a contract April 19 with the Garwood, Gulf Coast and Lakeside agricultural divisions for supplementary downstream water needs in 2016.

Downstream customers in the Garwood, Gulf Coast and Lakeside agricultural divisions are interruptible customers of the agency—meaning their water contracts can be interrupted, or stopped, to meet the needs of firm water customers such as municipalities including the city of Austin and Travis County Water Control and Improvement District 17. As supplemental interruptible customers, they can receive water only if there are sufficient levels in the Highland Lakes to provide for LCRA’s firm water customers and the water is not needed for rice or turf grass irrigation. Examples of these types of supplemental agricultural uses include wildlife management, and row crops.

Recent history

On February 17, LCRA approved first crop contracts with its interruptible customers so that downstream rice and turf grass farmers can be provided water for irrigation purposes beginning March 1.

On March 1, the combined storage of lakes Travis and Buchanan was 90 percent full and sufficient—under the new water management plan approved by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality in November—to provide for downstream users’ first crop, or rice and turf grass agriculture.

The interruptible contracts approved April 19 will allow row crop and supplemental farmers to receive water.

All interruptible contracts are slated to end Oct. 15, at the completion of the irrigation season, said John Hofmann, LCRA executive vice president of water.

April weekend rain event

LCRA General Manager Phil Wilson said the agency is trying to dissipate the large quantity of rain that fell this past weekend, prompting Texas Governor Greg Abbott to declare several counties a disaster April 18.

“We are working very diligently with the stakeholders and communities utilizing our public safety resources and trying to anticipate where some of this massive amount of water is going right now,” Wilson said.

The majority of the rainfall that occurred upstream in the Highland Lakes between Saturday night and Sunday morning averaged about 1.5-2 inches throughout most of the watersheds, Hofmann said.

Although LCRA used hydroelectric generators at Inks Lake, Lake LBJ, Lake Marble Falls and Lake Austin to keep the water reservoirs within their normal operating ranges throughout the storm, no water has been released from those lakes since April 18, Hofmann said.

Intense rainfall over Lake Travis on Sunday afternoon—5.8 inches in two hours—caused LCRA to open the flood gate at Tom Miller Dam for about five hours, Hofmann said.

“The [lower Colorado River] basin itself weathered the [rain] event up around the Highland Lakes very, very well,” he said.


For a third consecutive semester, Texas public school districts will not be penalized financially due to declining enrollment and attendance as a result of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, due to an extension of the hold-harmless guarantee, state leaders announced March 4. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Texas leaders ensure financial stability for public school districts through spring semester with hold-harmless extension

The guarantee also ensures that Texas school systems can retain their teachers for the 2020-21 school year for whom they originally budgeted.

Winter Storm Uri caused restaurants across Austin to close due to power outages and unsafe road conditions. (Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper)
Austin Energy GM Jacqueline Sargent resigns from ERCOT's board of directors in wake of winter storms

Sargent's departure follows a trend of resignations from the agency that oversees Texas' power system.

Central Texas Food Bank
Central Texas Food Bank announces distribution sites in March following winter storm

The Central Texas Food Bank is holding food distribution events throughout March for local residents experiencing food insecurity due to the COVID-19 pandemic and lingering effects from damage caused by Winter Storm Uri.

Courtney Manuel (center), I Live Here I Give Here executive director, and and board chair Kathy Smith-Willman (right) stand with Edward B. Burger, St. David's Foundation executive director, during Amplify Austin Day 2020. (Courtesy Trent Lee Photography)
Here's how to support Central Texas nonprofits during ninth annual Amplify Austin Day on March 4-5

The annual 24-hour giving campaign will begin at 6 p.m. on March 4.

People wait in line to receive a vaccine at an Austin Public Health vaccination site. (Nicholas Cicale/Community Impact Newspaper)
Texas offers COVID-19 vaccinations to school, child care workers

Educators, school staff and child care professionals are qualified to receive coronavirus vaccines effective immediately.

In response to Gov. Greg Abbott's March 2 announcement that Texas' statewide mask mandate and COVID-19-related business restrictions will be lifted as of March 10, the Texas Education Agency released updated public health guidance March 3. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Updated Texas Education Agency guidance allows individual school boards to determine mask policies

"Under this updated guidance, a public school system's current practices on masks may continue unchanged. Local school boards have full authority to determine their local mask policy," the release reads.

H-E-B will continue to require employees to wear face masks until further notice. (Nicholas Cicale/Community Impact Newspaper)
H-E-B to require employees, ask customers to be masked despite upcoming expiration of governor's mandate

H-E-B officials announced their employees and vendors would still be required to be masked while on the job, and customers would be encouraged to wear masks while in stores.

Photo of DSISD headquarters
See the latest school zone options under consideration for Dripping Springs ISD

Adjustments between February and March included making students from The Views at Belterra community eligible to attend Rooster Springs Elementary School.

Snapology is hosting camps in person this summer. (Courtesy Snapology)
2021 Southwest Austin and Dripping Springs summer camp guide: 37 options including virtual and in-person offerings

Our list of camps happening in Austin and Dripping Springs this summer includes options focusing on academics, arts, sports and language.Our list of camps happening in Austin this summer includes options focusing on academics, arts, sports and language.

Photo from inside a movie theater
Alamo Drafthouse files for bankruptcy, closes theaters in downtown Austin and New Braunfels

Most theaters will remain open under an asset purchase agreement to the company's senior lending partners.

Jeanne Cooper (left) and Melissa Greenwell opened C'est Chic in 2009. (Nicholas Cicale/Community Impact Newspaper)
Gift shop C'est Chic has been a presence in the Southwest Austin community for more than a decade

C'est Chic owners Melissa Greenwell and Jeanne Cooper met in 1995, when both their children attended Kiker Elementary School, and opened the store in 2009.