The reservoir will be about twice the size of this reservoir in Florida.
The embankment of the new reservoir will be similar to this reservoir in Ohio. The sides will be about 40 feet tall.
The Lower River Colorado Authority is aggressively moving toward expanding the region's water supply. In 2012, the LCRA Board of Directors adopted a goal of adding 100,000 acre-feet per year to the region's water supply by 2017. New water supply projects are underway that will meet that goal.
Lane City Reservoir Project
LCRA is planning to build the first new reservoir in the lower Colorado River basin in decades. The Lane City Reservoir Project will be constructed off the main channel of the river, near Lane City in Wharton County. The reservoir would add 90,000 acre-feet per year to LCRA's firm water supply, increasing supply by about 15 percent. Firm water is water that can be counted on without shortage even during a repeat of the conditions during the worst drought in the region's history – the decade-long drought from 1947 to 1957.
In 2013, the LCRA Board of Directors approved spending $18 million to purchase property for the reservoir and to conduct the initial design, engineering and permitting. An additional $17 million approved in March 2014 funded the final design of the reservoir and moving an electric transmission line off the reservoir site.
The LCRA Board of Directors on Sept. 17, 2014, approved Phase 2 of the project, authorizing construction of the reservoir. Earlier in the month, the Texas Water Development Board approved LCRA's $250 million loan application to fund the project.
The reservoir will be able to hold about 40,000 acre-feet of water, but the water could be used and the reservoir refilled multiple times over the course of a year, making it capable of adding 90,000 acre-feet of firm water to the region's supply.
The new reservoir will lessen the need to send Highland Lakes water to customers near the coast while improving agricultural water reliability and efficiency. It is the first project that will allow LCRA to capture and store significant amounts of water downstream of the Highland Lakes for use by multiple industrial and agricultural customers.
The new reservoir will increase LCRA's operational flexibility, which, in turn, has the potential to enhance the availability of freshwater to the region, including rice farmlands, managed waterfowl habitat and coastal wetlands. The new reservoir also makes possible managed releases in closer proximity to Matagorda Bay. The new reservoir can help with both water quantity and water quality stresses for these uses.
The Highland Lakes were created to manage floods on the Colorado River and to provide a sustainable source of water for the basin as a whole. To the extent that the new downstream reservoir will be able to provide water to help meet the needs of the lower basin, less water from the Highland Lakes will be needed for these purposes.
Preliminary estimates show the reservoir will cost $214.9 million.
Key reservoir project milestones
- January 2012: LCRA Board sets goal of adding 100,000 acre-feet to water supply.
- August 2012: LCRA Board of Directors authorizes project.
- January 2013: LCRA Board approves $18 million for Phase 1a of the project.
- April-September 2013: LCRA Board selects design engineer, purchases land and selects construction manager.
- March 2014: LCRA Board approves $17 million funding for Phase 1b.
- September 2014: Texas Water Development Board approves LCRA's $250 million loan application to fund the project.
- September 2014: LCRA Board approves Phase 2 of the project.
- 2014-2015: Construction expected to begin.
- Early 2017: Projected completion.
Bastrop groundwater project
The Bastrop County Groundwater Project will add another 10,000 acre-feet to the water supply by allowing LCRA to pump up to 10,000 acre-feet of water a year, under certain conditions, at LCRA's Lost Pines Power Park property in Bastrop County. The Lost Pines Groundwater Conservation District approved the project and agreed to allow LCRA to take 10,000 acre-feet per year during drought conditions and 5,000 acre-feet a year during other years. Four wells have been drilled.