AUSTIN (KXAN) – The Lower Colorado River Authority said Monday it entered the second stage of drought response and asked water customers to cut back water use.

The agency said the combined storage in Lakes Travis and Buchanan, the two water supply reservoirs in the Highland Lakes, fell below 900,000 acre-feet over the weekend. That is about 46% of capacity. An acre-foot is 326,000 gallons of water.

LCRA said it asked all firm water customers (municipalities, water districts and industries) reduce use by 10%-20% and implement mandatory water restrictions.

“We have enough water, but we don’t have enough water to waste,” said John Hofmann, LCRA executive vice president of Water.

“The easiest and most direct way to reduce discretionary water use is to cut back on watering landscapes,” Hofmann said. “Individual homeowners have a responsibility to use water wisely and without waste,” he said. “A healthy yard needs less water than you may think. Your yard can survive being watered once a week or every other week until these drought conditions improve.”

In addition to cutting back on landscape watering, LCRA also encouraged everyone to follow their local water providers’ rules and to be mindful about all water use.

LCRA recommends:

  • Using water-efficient and drought-tolerant plants.
  • Adding mulch to landscapes and compost to turf to help prevent water loss.
  • Covering swimming pools when not in use.
  • Reducing water waste inside the house by turning off water when it’s not needed.

The LCRA said it began Stage 1 drought response in July 2022, after cutting off interruptible stored water from the Highland Lakes to agricultural customers in the Gulf Coast, Lakeside and Pierce Ranch agricultural operations in Colorado, Wharton and Matagorda counties. It also requested firm water customers reduce water use by 5%. 

In March 2023, LCRA cut off stored water for the same agricultural customers for the entirety of 2023.