According information featured on the Texas Tribune, the he LCRA's board of directors voted to pass a water management plan for the Highland Lakes. Reportedly, the plan now goes to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality for final approval.
Reportedly, the decision rose from controversy about how much water Texas rice farmers should draw from the Highland Lakes near Austin. The decision falls in the jurisdiction of the Lower Colorado River Authority which controls the lakes. According to the Texas Tribune, the proposed water management plan was 18 months in the making and maps out water allocation from Lake Travis and Lake Buchanan for the next few decades. Under the new plan, less water than before goes to the Texas rice farmers, who previously received a majority of the water from the Highland Lakes. The new plan also allocates more water to cities like Austin.
According to the Tribune, the allocation of water to the rice farmers will be determined on a pro-rata scale depending on how much precipitation has fallen. The plan allows for the farmers water supply to cut off during a drought. However, in exchange for this uncertainty farmers will be able to purchase the water a far cheaper rate than cities. Reportedly, under the plan which has been approved the lake levels will be assessed twice a year to see if there is enough water for the farmers who harvest crops twice a year. Further, sources say another key change is that the amount of water released to the farmers will no longer be unlimited. The Texas Tribune also reported that many farmers are not particularly pleased with the decision.
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