LCRA's emergency drought relief request approved by TCEQ head
January 27, 2014, 4:00 pm by James Walker
The executive director of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality Monday approved the Lower Colorado River Authority’s request for emergency drought relief.
Approval of the emergency drought request means LCRA will be allowed to curtail stored water from the Highland Lakes for downstream rice farmers if the Lake Buchanan and Lake Travis reservoirs contain less than 1.1 million acre feet on March 1.
The approval of the drought request by TCEQ Executive Director Richard Hyde moves the process to the next step, which will take place Feb. 12 in Austin when TCEQ's three commissioners will meet to affirm, modify or set it aside.
If water to the rice farmers is curtailed it will be the third straight year that has happened as a near record-setting drought continues to devastate the Colorado River basin and the Highland Lakes, which are the source of drinking water for more than a million Central Texans.
Sen. Troy Fraser (R-Horseshoe Bay), who along with other lakes interests had advocated for a 1.4 million acre feet cutoff for the rice farmers, nevertheless expressed his support for Hyde’s action.
"The drought our state is facing today calls for caution when it comes to managing the drinking water of more than a million Central Texans because we have no idea how long this drought will continue and at what intensity,” Fraser said. "This will ensure the LCRA is doing all that they can to prolong the water of the Highland Lakes for firm paying water customers.”
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