LCRA pursuing new water supply


The lower basin 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.
New Reservoir

The Lower Colorado River Authority Board of Directors has unanimously approved spending $17 million on the next phase of a new water reservoir near the Texas coast. The vote came at the Board's March 19 meeting.

LCRA is pursuing the first new reservoir in the lower Colorado River basin in decades. It will be constructed off the main channel of the river, near Lane City in Wharton County. The Lower Basin Reservoir Project would add 90,000 acre-feet a year to LCRA's firm water supply, increasing supply by about 15 percent. Firm water is water that can be counted on 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 Board approved spending $18 million to purchase property for the reservoir and to conduct the initial design, engineering and permitting. The additional $17 million approved March 19 will fund the final design of the reservoir and the infrastructure needed to pump water to and from the reservoir. It will also pay for moving an electric transmission line off the reservoir site and other work.

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; and 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 reservoir will help meet LCRA's goal of adding 100,000 acre-feet a year to the region's water supply by 2017. It will be able to hold about 40,000 acre-feet of water, but could be filled and used 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 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.

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 a year during drought conditions and 5,000 acre-feet a year during other years. Two of the wells were operating as of early 2014. The remaining three will be completed this year.


Key Reservoir Project Milestones

  • LCRA Board sets goal of adding 100,000 acre-feet to water supply: January 2012
  • LCRA Board of Directors authorizes Lower Basin Reservoir Project : August 2012
  • LCRA Board approves $18 million for Phase 1a of the project: January 2013
  • LCRA Board selects design engineer: April 2013
  • Land purchased in Wharton County: June 2013
  • LCRA Board selects construction manager: September 2013
  • LCRA Board approves $17 million funding for phase 1b: March 2014
  • Construction starts: estimated 2014-2015
  • Construction completion date: projected for early 2017




​Information on the downstream sites


Information on the Lost Pines Groundwater Project

News Releases


Wharton County reservoir site

Engineering crews are doing preliminary work on the reservoir site in Wharton County. The reservoir is expected to be completed in early 2017.