Posted on 25 July 2014.
CONNIE SWINNEY • PICAYUNE STAFF
AUSTIN — As drought conditions continue, the battle over water from the Colorado River heats up between advocacy groups fighting to get their messages across to state agencies with the power to halt supplies.
The Lower Colorado River Basin Coalition, a newly formed group, has assembled advocates from agriculture, environmental, hunting and wildlife interests from Bastrop County to the Matagorda Bay.
“We wanted to make sure the messaging being heard by the public, being heard by our agencies, is a balanced messaging, so that they do hear from everyone who is impacted below Longhorn Dam, Lady Bird Lake in Austin,” coalition chairman Kirby Brown said.
Brown also works as a conservation biologist for Ducks Unlimited, a national organization that focuses on sportsman activities and waterfowl and wetlands conservation.
Other entities that comprise the coalition are the Coastal Conservation Association, the Rice Belt Warehouse, the Red Bluff Hunting Club, Bastrop County, the Sierra Club, Audubon Texas and the Bluebonnet Electric Cooperative.
“It’s been one of those things where we felt like we needed to tell the other story. Our entire economies, our businesses are being impacted — not just rice farmers,” Brown said.
The organization formed in June shortly after the Central Texas Water Coalition scored a victory regarding reservoir storage requirements and water-release triggers recommended by the Lower Colorado River Authority and approved by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.
The two entities agreed on setting a 1.1 million acre-feet of combined storage requirement for lakes Buchanan and Travis — the previous trigger point was 850,000 acre-feet — citing historic low levels, minimal inflows from rain runoff and persistent drought conditions.
While the reservoirs are currently about 38 percent full, for three years in a row, TCEQ has approved cutting off water releases for the rice farming industry downstream to try to maintain water levels upstream that supply water for domestic use for about a million people in the Highland Lakes from Lake Buchanan to the city of Austin.
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***** FOTWW’s mission is to protect the Aransas/Wood Buffalo population
of wild whooping cranes and their habitat. *****