|An aerial view of a rice field. A surcharge on sales of water in Williamson County is funding strategies such as precision-leveling of rice farms to conserve water in the lower Colorado River basin.
For several decades, LCRA has provided raw water to communities in Williamson County, a fast-growing county in Central Texas.
Cedar Park has been a raw water customer of LCRA since the early 1970s, while Leander has been using Colorado River water since the mid-1990s. A portion of the water service areas of both of these Williamson County cities is in the lower Colorado River basin.
While most of Williamson County is outside of the lower Colorado River watershed, authority to provide water to the county is specified by state laws. The Texas Legislature has amended LCRA's enabling legislation to allow LCRA to provide water services outside of its watershed in Williamson and Lampasas counties. Read more about LCRA water contracts for Williamson County cities.
HB 1437 and "no net loss"
In 1999, the Texas Legislature passed House Bill 1437 to provide up to 25,000 acre-feet of surface water per year for use in specific areas of Williamson County under certain conditions. The legislation requires "no net loss" of water in the Colorado River watershed and authorizes a surcharge on sales of the water to fund strategies to ensure that an equal amount of water is conserved, replaced or offset. LCRA has entered into a contract with the Brazos River Authority to provide this water to Williamson County communities and developed conservation strategies as required by HB 1437 with input from a Agriculture Water Conservation Fund Advisory Committee, a nine-member group of farmers and agricultural experts from Colorado, Wharton and Matagorda counties.
The HB 1437 Agricultural Water Conservation Program provides funds to LCRA's irrigation operations and grants to agriculture producers to implement agricultural water conservation projects.
How to apply
HB 1437 grant program
In 2006, the LCRA Board adopted the application guidelines, eligibility rules and contract provisions for awarding cost sharing conservation grants from the Ag Fund. These guidelines integrated the NRCS technical specifications and payment certification processes into the requirements for the HB 1437 grant program. In 2012, the application guidelines and cost sharing agreement were amended so that priority will not be given to applications with current water contracts in a curtailment year and producers will not be penalized for utilizing groundwater during a curtailment. For more information on these modifications, contact the LCRA irrigation division offices. The LCRA Board has approved another grant cycle at its January 2013 meeting for Spring 2013.