HAYS COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — With Central Texas in a drought, water supply is on the minds of many, prompting a push to start discussions about updating the Lower Colorado River Authority’s Water Management Plan.
Jo Karr Tedder, president of Central Texas Water Coalition, is leading that charge.
“Right now this drought we’re in… is worse than we were in 2011,” Tedder said.
LCRA is already scheduled to revisit the plan in 2025. However, Tedder said discussions need to start now because of the weather conditions.
“It being so hot, evaporation, no rainfall,” Tedder said.
The group tried to get counties to push LCRA to revamp the plan. Many are using similar languages in resolutions to urge LCRA to work with local leaders to update the plan on an accelerated timeline based on “current scientific research and data, take into account the significant decline in water flowing into the Highland Lakes, include provisions that encourage conservation by all water users, and prepare for greatly increased water demands in Central Texas,” according to Travis County’s resolution. Its resolution also asked the group to facilitate smart water distribution and use and expand public outreach. Travis’ and Burnet County’s resolutions passed, but a vote to do the same in Hays County Tuesday failed.
In a statement to KXAN, the LCRA said yearly water demands have been below 2025 projections.
“Based on current conditions, there is no need to begin updating the 2020 Water Management Plan earlier than called for in the plan.”John Hoffman, LCRA Executive Vice President of Water
Hays County Commissioner Walt Smith said he respects LCRA’s authority in this decision. He said locally he’ll continue discussions around water supply.
One proposal he has to preserve water is to monitor the number of wells being built.
“You want to build a house…you want to put a well in, I think that’s a great thing. I just want to make sure over time we limit how many of those things happen in a given region,” Smith said.
The LCRA said, when water use for 2022 is available early next year, they will evaluate the numbers to determine whether to start the process.
How other counties voted
Travis County Commissioners unanimously approved a resolution July 19 indicating it believed the LCRA’s Water Management Plan needed to be modernized as more people move into the area and the Highland Lakes see lower levels of water flowing into them.
Burnet County Commissioners also unanimously passed a very similar resolution July 26 calling on the LCRA to speed up its timeline of updating its Water Management Plan, reaching out to stakeholders and residents and helping people get on board with smart water use.
Williamson County Commissioners, like those in Hays County, did not approve a similar resolution.
Williamson County Commissioner Terry Cook brought forth the resolution, but said her colleagues believed the court couldn’t tell LCRA how to do its business. She said her intention had been a request to LCRA, not a mandate.
“It was approved by Burnet County, which is under LCRA watershed, and Travis County. Is that enough? Maybe. We really want them to open the books and let people look at what is your plan and know that the plan accounts for current conditions,” Cook said.