This week's announcement by the LCRA that they are going ahead with a "downstream" reservoir to take the pressure of the Lake system. The new reservoir will come on stream and can hold 90,000 acre feet compared to the 1.5 million acre feet in the combined "Highland lakes" system. It is designed to collect water that falls over Austin and does not impact the existing reservoirs.
Here is the body of their Press Release:
Wharton County reservoir would add 90,000 acre-feet of firm water to the region's water supply
The Lower Colorado River Authority Board of Directors Wednesday unanimously approved spending $17 million on the next phase of a new water reservoir near the Texas coast.
"The new reservoir is vitally important to the region, and this funding keeps the project moving forward," LCRA General Manager Phil Wilson said. "LCRA serves one of the fastest-growing areas in the country, but the area also is prone to severe droughts. This new reservoir will help LCRA continue to provide a reliable water supply to the communities, industries and other customers that depend on us.
"The reservoir will benefit everyone in the region by reducing the demand on water from the Highland Lakes," Wilson said.
LCRA is planning to build the first new reservoir in the basin in decades off the main channel of the lower Colorado River near Lane City in Wharton County. The reservoir would add 90,000 acre-feet a year to LCRA's firm water supply, increasing the supply by about 15 percent.
Last year, the Board approved $18 million to purchase the property and conduct the initial design, engineering and permitting. The additional $17 million approved by the Board Wednesday will fund the final design of the reservoir and infrastructure needed to pump water from the Colorado River to the reservoir, then from the reservoir to customers. It also will pay for moving an electric transmission line on the reservoir site and other work.
The reservoir project is estimated to cost a total of about $215 million and be complete by 2017. LCRA is exploring potential funding sources, including grants and loans. The Board decision on Wednesday funds the project through June, when the Board is expected to consider funding for the rest of the project.
Lakes Buchanan and Travis are the region's main water reservoirs. They provide water for more than 1 million people in Central Texas, and businesses, industries, agriculture and the environment throughout the lower Colorado River basin. Because of the severe drought gripping Central Texas, the lakes are at 38 percent of capacity and could hit all-time lows later this year if the severe drought continues.
The new reservoir would benefit customers throughout the lower Colorado River basin. It would reduce the need to release water from lakes Travis and Buchanan to serve customers in the lower basin. The reservoir would also allow LCRA to capture water that enters the river downstream of Lake Travis for future use.
"The reservoir project makes sense for the entire basin," Wilson said. "This action shows how committed the Board is to expanding the water supply for the future of this region. We're moving forward with the reservoir, drilling wells in Bastrop County and looking at other options."