Thursday, September 26, 2013

Last week’s rain buys Central Texas a little more time

Last week’s rain buys Central Texas a little more time

Posted: 7:49 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 24, 2013
By Marty Toohey - American-Statesman Staff
Last week’s heavy rains can be measured in more ways than inches and feet. They can also be measured in weeks.
The 2 to 5 inches of rain that fell in parts of the Hill Country amounts to a few weeks’ worth of water use trickling into Central Texas’ main reservoirs. That in turn means the most restrictive Central Texas water rules in living memory probably won’t take effect until some time in November, instead of as early as mid-October.
“It’s not a drought buster, but it’s definitely welcome,” Lower Colorado River Authority General Manager Becky Motal said in a statement.
The region’s main reservoirs, lakes Buchanan and Travis, are 33 percent full, according to the LCRA, which manages the lakes. The LCRA had predicted the lakes would dip below 30 percent full some time in October. When they hit a threshold just under 30 percent, the region will have surpassed the last measurement to consider the current drought to be the worst on record, surpassing the epic drought of the 1950s.
Entering the “drought of record” means additional water restrictions for much of the region.
Many Central Texas cities and water-distribution districts buy their water from the LCRA. When the current drought is declared the worst on record, the LCRA will tell its customers to cut back water use 20 percent from 2011 levels.
The requirement will affect communities differently. Some have already cut back. Some have not. Austin, thanks to its water-conservation policies, largely will be exempted from the 20 percent curtailment.
Even so, Austin water managers plan to enact additional restrictions when the region enters the drought of record. For instance, for 21 of the past 23 months, Austin has limited automatic lawn-watering systems to one-day-a-week use. On designated watering days, automatic sprinkler systems are allowed to operate between midnight and 5 a.m. and between 7 p.m. and midnight. When the LCRA declares the drought the worst on record, Austin will limit watering to one time a week, during either the morning or evening, according to the city’s water utility.
It’s not clear exactly when that will happen, assuming the area sees little rain in the coming weeks, though LCRA calculations point to some time in November. Water from the recent rains is still flowing into lakes Buchanan and Travis. By Tuesday, the combined storage of Buchanan and Travis had reached 657,642 acre-feet, “up from 637,300 acre-feet early Friday,” according to an LCRA release. The rains added the equivalent of the water used by 6,780 typical Central Texas homes use in a year.
But that rainfall is a relatively small drop in the Central Texas bucket. Lake Travis was full in spring 2010, a time when Buchanan was nearly full as well. Before the recent rains, they were 31.7 percent full. As of Tuesday afternoon they were 32.7 percent full.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

In the Flow Vol: 1 Issue: 14, 25 September 2013

Welcome to In the Flow, a water news wrap-up and analysis prepared every other week by The Texas Tribune and the Meadows Center for Water and the Environment at Texas State University. We bring you the latest news and events concerning the river systems of Texas and important water issues on a state and regional level.
In the Flow Vol: 1 Issue: 14:

by Neena Satija
UPDATED: The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality has approved the permit for construction of North Texas' Lake Ralph Hall, the first major new reservoir built in the state in decades. 

by Neena Satija
As the Highland Lakes that supply Austin drop to near-historic lows, the Lower Colorado River Authority is considering cutting off flows to Matagorda Bay. But officials on the Gulf Coast say the move could devastate the economy. 

by Jim Malewitz
A diverse coalition is racing to institute a plan to increase energy and water efficiency upgrades that supporters say could help Texas improve its conservation record. 

A new survey shows that many top business executives from around the world believe that the global economy may not be able to keep up with growing populations' demands on natural resources.

Sport fishing in the U.S. has suffered because of climate change and will likely fare even worse in the future, according to a new report on the effects of rising temperatures.

Kenyan officials and the U.N. have announced the discovery of huge aquifers beneath the surface of the arid northern part of the country.

by David Muto
The Tribune and In the Flow are pleased to present two conversations, in Houston and Fort Worth, about the 2013 ballot initiative on state spending for water infrastructure. 

The Water Institute of Texas will sponsor a symposium on emerging water issues, including long-term water availability and the water regulatory environment.

The Caddo Lake Institute's president on Saturday will discuss the Paddlefish Project, an experiment to return the species to the Big Cypress and Caddo Lake watershed.

THIRST, a temporary art installation on Austin's Lady Bird Lake commemorating the 300 million trees lost in the state's drought, will remain on view from Sept. 28 to Dec. 30.

by Ryan Murphy
Using data from the Texas Water Development Board's reservoir status tracker, our auto-updating map visualizes the current state of Texas reservoirs.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

WVWA Fall Membership Event

WVWA Fall Membership Event
Saturday, September 28th
5pm - 7pm
The Retreat at Jacob’s Well
1405 Mt. Sharp Rd Wimberley

Join us for a Picnic Dinner and Family Fun
Music by One Village Music Project

Connect with your Conservation Community
Learn more about our Youth Outreach Partners