Texas has granted permits for a series of new reservoirs to be built in Colorado, Wharton and Matagorda counties, downstream along the Colorado River from Austin. According to a story in today’s Austin American-Statesman, the application for the permit was first submitted in 1999, but had been tied up in various levels of negotiation with environmental groups and the nuclear operating company. In the end, after language was modified in the application, all parties are satisfied with the agreement and the state has granted permission to move forward with construction. Building the reservoirs will take somewhere between 5 and 10 years to complete.
IMPACT OF NEW RESERVOIRS ON AUSTIN
The impact of the decision for Austin is more direct than it may seem. Already during the process, a potential plan to pipe that water back up to Austin has been discussed. The costs would be initially high for the Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA) to absorb, but the concept shows foresight in planning for the rapidly growing Austin metropolitan area. With all data indicating that our population will continue to increase in Austin, the focus on ensuring enough water supplies exist, even during the most severe droughts, will become increasingly important.
Without adequate water supplies, cities simply cannot grow and trying to stop the momentum of Austin’s growth right now is both undesirable and, most likely, impossible. LCRA controls 2.6 million acre-feet of water and they are fully aware of the demographic predictions for our area. By planning ahead, they will be able to meet our growing demand.
The combined storage of the new reservoirs will be approximately 500,000 acre-feet, or roughly half the capacity of Lake Travis. The average family uses about 1/3 of an acre-foot per year.
In addition, new reservoirs means new lakefront property. It remains to be seen how the plans will unfold and how the shore around the new lakes will be allocated or made available for purchase. The landowners who are nearby will likely have a huge impact on the direction of future development. The short distance to Austin would provide potential second home or vacation home sites for residents in our area, as well as Houston.
To read the complete article in the Austin American-Statesman, please click here.