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Water supply

Managing region's water supplies requires careful planning and conservation

LCRA manages the Highland Lakes and Colorado River as a system to supply water for more than 1 million people as well as businesses, industries, the environment and, when available, agriculture in the lower Colorado River basin.

LCRA has the rights to more than 2.1 million acre-feet of water per year. These rights ­–  based mostly on surface water permits issued by the state of Texas –  include the right to divert and use up to 1.5 million acre-feet per year from lakes Buchanan and Travis and 636,750 acre-feet per year under downstream run-of-river water rights from the Gulf Coast, Lakeside, Garwood and Pierce Ranch irrigation operations.

New water supplies

In 2012, LCRA set a goal of increasing its water supply by 100,000 acre-feet by 2017. Several new water supply projects are underway to meet the goal, including a new reservoir in Wharton County and groundwater wells in Bastrop County.

Firm and interruptible customers

Water supplies managed by LCRA are divided into firm and interruptible water. Firm water is available even during a severe drought. Cities, industries and electric power plants rely on firm water supplies. During water shortages, interruptible water, which is mostly used for agriculture, is cut back or cut off. LCRA sells water to customers through contracts and resolutions approved by LCRA's Board of Directors.

A managed water system

During severe dry periods, the lower Colorado River may flow at greatly reduced rates and levels in lakes Travis and Buchanan may drop. The Highland Lakes Overview page​ has more information about current conditions on the Highland Lakes.

LCRA manages lakes Travis and Buchanan under a state-approved Water Management Plan, which describes how to allocate water during water supply shortages. It directs LCRA when to cut back or cut off interruptible water supplies so that demands for firm water can be met. The Water Management Plan also determines the amount of water available for environmental flows, which contribute to the health of the lower river and the bays and estuaries downstream of the Highland Lakes.

Read a fact sheet and FAQs about releases for interruptible customers in 2016. 

LCRA continually plans for the long-term water needs of customers. The Water Supply Resource Plan serves as a road map for meeting the lower Colorado River basin’s water needs to the year 2100.

How full are the lakes?
96%
 
Lakes Travis and Buchanan are our region’s water supply reservoirs and currently hold about 1,925,400 acre-feet of water.
LakeLevelMo. Avg
Buchanan1017.71012.58
Inks887.36887.47
LBJ824.71824.49
Marble Falls736.36736.79
Travis679.16669.41
Austin492.01492.24

 

View the latest water supply storage projections for the Highland Lakes.

Water supply resource plan

 

 

Annual Water Use Summary