Contracts required for homes to pump water directly from Highland Lakes

LCRA working to ensure everyone is playing by the same rules

​With the return of spring weather, Highland Lakes residents are likely to turn their attention to their lawns and landscaping. LCRA wants lakeside homeowners to remember they must have a contract to legally pump water from the Highland Lakes.

Pumping water from the lakes to water lawns or landscaping is a common practice for people who live along the lakes, and LCRA estimates more than 5,000 households do so each year. Collectively, the homes use as much or more water than some communities, which makes it important that LCRA accounts for the water as it manages the region’s supply.

Through the contracts, LCRA can keep track of the amount of water being pulled from the lakes and help educate residents about responsible watering practices and permitted watering times. As part of the contract, residents agree to follow a watering schedule intended to eliminate overwatering. Residents also become eligible for a free LCRA irrigation system checkup.

“The ongoing drought has highlighted how important every drop of water is,” said LCRA General Manager Becky Motal. “Most residents around the Highland Lakes are doing the responsible thing by getting a contract. We just want to make sure that everyone is playing by the same rules.”

Pumping water stored in the Highland Lakes ­- Buchanan, Inks, LBJ, Marble Falls, Travis and Austin - without a contract is a violation of state law.  As recently as 2009, only about 60 residents had contracts to do so legally. Now, after a series of outreach and education efforts, more than 4,000 residents have contracts. LCRA also contracts for withdrawals from Austin’s Lady Bird Lake.

Domestic use customers pay $151 an acre-foot for water.  That is the same rate LCRA’s municipal and industrial customers pay for raw water. An acre-foot is 325,851 gallons. Three-quarters of an acre-foot, which costs $113.25, is sufficient to meet the annual landscape watering needs of most households.

LCRA will be on the water again this year looking for residents who are pumping without contracts or who are watering outside of the permitted times. A detailed watering schedule is included in each contract.

The watering schedule for those using Highland Lakes water is:

  • Addresses ending in even numbers: Thursday and Sunday;
  • Addresses ending in odd numbers: Wednesday and Saturday;
  • Time: Midnight to 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. to Midnight.


LCRA's goal is voluntary compliance, but it can report violators to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, which can levy fines for pulling water from the lakes without a contract.

More information and contracts can be found at LCRA.org or by calling LCRA's Domestic Use Contract Hotline at 1-800-776-5272​, ext. 1535.