HIGHLAND LAKES, Texas (KXAN) - Nearly 1,200 Highland Lakes residents have signed up for Lower Colorado River Authority's domestic use program since February and received the necessary contracts to pull water from the lakes for use at their homes.
The new influx of contracts brings the total to almost 3,200.
LCRA announced in February that it would begin reporting those who pull water from the lakes without contracts to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality , which has the authority to enforce water rights. TCEQ can issue citations of $350 for up to half an acre-foot of water withdrawn illegally or $875 for half an acre-foot to one acre-foot.
"The response has been tremendous," LCRA general manager Becky Motal said. "The Highland Lakes are vital to the entire region, and it's only fair that everyone pay for the water they use. We're very impressed by the number of people who have decided to do the right thing."
An estimated 5,500 homes pull water through pipes directly from the lakes, and more than half of those now have the required contracts to do so. Pumping water stored in lakes Buchanan, Inks, LBJ, Marble Falls, Travis or Austin without a contract is a violation of state law.
"We believe that most people will step up of their own volition, as so many already have, but it's time to ensure that everyone is playing by the same rules," Motal said.
Domestic use customers pay $151 a year for an acre-foot for water. That is the same rate LCRA's municipal and industrial customers pay for raw water. An acre-foot is 325,851 gallons. Three-quarters of an acre-foot, which costs $113.25, is sufficient to meet the annual needs of most households.
In 2009, fewer than 60 residents had the necessary contracts to make pumping water from the lakes legal.
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