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LCRA Board Approves Money For Major Downstream Reservoir Project In Wharton County

Ryan Poppe
TPR News
LCRA hearing in Nov. 2013 to decide on raising the lake level threshold for the Highland Lakes.

 The Board of Directors for the Lower Colorado River Authority has approved the next phase of a downstream reservoir that will capture some of the water heading to Matagorda Bay.

This week, the LCRA board approved spending $17 million that will go toward finalizing the design of the reservoir in Wharton County.

The LCRA’s Clara Tuma said the reservoir in the lower basin will provide fresh water to the Gulf Coast bays, as well as Texas rice farmers on the coastal plains.

“Right now if it rains in Austin, or downstream of Austin, that water flows down the river and into Matagorda Bay [and] there’s not a way to stop it and hold it for later use because Lake Travis is the lowest water reservoir," Tuma said. "What this reservoir would allow us to do is capture all that water below Lake Travis.”

Recently the LCRA requested permission from the Texas Commission on Enviromental Quality to stop the flow of water downstream to rice farmers for the third year in row. 

Tuma said a reservoir would strongly benefit the farmers and ecosystem in the bay estuaries but also would serve people living along the upper basin of the river near the Highland Lakes.

“Everyone in the basin would benefit from this because every bit of water that can be captured and used that’s water that doesn’t have to be sent down from the Highland Lakes," Tuma said.

The project is expected to be completed by 2017 at a total cost estimated at $255 million.