As lake levels rapidly drop, another water release planned for farmers

Austin

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin Water put out a tweet Monday about the low lake levels and the importance of cutting back on water use, along with the hashtag “make it last.”

After KXAN reported Lake Travis — Austin’s source for water — is less than 70 percent full and Lake Buchanan isn’t far behind, viewers have been asking why the Lower Colorado River Authority is still sending water downstream to the rice farmers.

“I was just curious how much they were going to release, and why they were still releasing when we are in the position that we’re in,” said John Klingler.

Klingler lives in Lago Vista and has two boats at Lago Vista Marina Park. He says the boat slips have been moved every weekend for the last three weekends to keep up with the changing shoreline.

The rapid drop exposing more of the usually rocky lake bottom has him wondering about the water the LCRA is sending downstream.

“I understand the rice farmers have a livelihood, but the flip side is economically the lake up here is a huge boost not to mention it’s our drinking water,” said Klingler.

So far this year, the LCRA has sent more than 44,000 acre-feet of stored water downstream. They plan to release another 55,000 acre-feet between August and October.

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality is the agency that approved the 2015 Water Management Plan that lays out how much water is available for agricultural irrigation. 

The plan is currently being updated with significant stakeholder input, and the LCRA expects to submit a revised plan to the TCEQ early next year.

Three years ago when the lake was at one of its lowest points, Klingler ended up closing his restaurant on the lake in Jonestown. He’s hoping Central Texas won’t be in that same boat again.

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