Why the Lower Colorado River Authority needs groundwater rights in Bastrop County
By Phil Wilson
Texas Insider Report: AUSTIN, Texas — The Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA) been serving Texans for more than 80 years. We are here to serve Texans — and we continue to work to provide the people of our region with the water resources that are critical for continued success. We have deep roots in Bastrop County and throughout the region, and when it comes to water, the time to plan for tomorrow is today.
As stewards of the roughly 600 miles of the Colorado River in Texas — from downstream of the O. H. Ivie Reservoir in Coleman County to Matagorda Bay — we at the Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA) are committed to increasing and preserving water supplies for the Texans we serve.
The Lower Colorado River Authority is doing that in our application to produce groundwater from the prolific Carrizo-Wilcox Aquifer in Bastrop County. In addition to our many other efforts to increase water supplies for booming growth in Texas, we are seeking permits to produce up to 25,000 acre-feet of water annually from groundwater pumping rights we own at the Griffith League Ranch in Bastrop County.
The ranch sits directly over the Simsboro formation of the Carrizo-Wilcox Aquifer. The aquifer stretches in a wide band across Texas, from Louisiana to Mexico.
We purchased groundwater pumping rights at the ranch from the Boy Scouts of America-Capitol Area Council in 2015. Once a permit is obtained, the groundwater would serve current and future water customers within our water service area — which includes Bastrop County — as demands increase. In addition to providing drinking water for residents, the water could be used throughout our Central Texas service area for manufacturing, irrigation and power production. We would phase in use of the water over time, depending on how demands grow.
In a region like ours that is prone to both droughts and floods, groundwater supplies such as those available from the Carrizo-Wilcox Aquifer should be part of a diverse water supply portfolio. Modeling by the Lost Pines Groundwater Conservation District, which is working on a draft permit after receiving our application, shows the aquifer can supply the water requested in our application without harming the aquifer.
As a regional water supplier, it would be irresponsible for us to sit idly by as our state grows and water demands increase, including Bastrop County. It takes years to develop new water supplies, which is why we’re moving forward with this and many other projects today.
For example, we are building the Arbuckle Reservoir off the main channel of the Colorado River in Wharton County. It could add up to 90,000 acre-feet of water to our region’s supply. The new reservoir, which we expect to begin operating in early 2019, will benefit the entire basin by helping reduce the amount of water otherwise required to be released from the Highland Lakes to serve downstream demands, including industrial and agricultural customers.
We’re also looking at additional water supply projects, including:
- Building the Prairie Conservation Reservoir — a small, off-channel reservoir in Colorado County
- Developing additional groundwater supplies
- Reusing wastewater
- Importing water from an adjacent river basin, and
- Using brackish groundwater to benefit our Texas estuaries
The facts about our groundwater permit application are simple and compelling:
- We own the Groundwater Rights for the water we are seeking to produce
- The permit we are requesting would help ensure Texas can continue to grow and prosper
- The water production under the requested permit will not harm the aquifer
- We’re not a private company with a profit motive coming to town to speculate on groundwater resources
We’ve been serving Texans for more than 80 years, and we have deep roots in Bastrop County and throughout the region.
Source: Texas Politics