Water supplies managed by LCRA are divided into firm and interruptible water. Firm water is available even during a severe drought. During water shortages, the supply of interruptible water, which is mostly used for agriculture, is reduced or cut off completely.
LCRA sells water for many uses: municipal, irrigation, industrial, agricultural, recreational, domestic use and other beneficial uses authorized by law.
LCRA's rate for firm water used is $145 an acre-foot per year. LCRA's rate for firm water reserved for future use is $72.50 an acre-foot per year. The reservation fee helps pay the cost of storing and managing reserved water supplies. The total amount of water under contract with LCRA sets the Maximum Annual Quantity (MAQ). LCRA's rate for use in excess of the MAQ – known as the “firm water inverted block fee” – is $290 an acre-foot per year.
Municipal, industrial and other firm uses
LCRA requires customers such as municipalities to secure a firm water supply contract to use water from the Highland Lakes or the lower Colorado River.
Water conservation planning
LCRA water customers are required to develop a water conservation plan, unless they are domestic use customers or temporary customers. LCRA customers are encouraged to adopt and implement elements of LCRA’s Landscape Conservation Guidelines.
LCRA requires its municipal retail, wholesale and all non-LCRA irrigation division customers implement a drought contingency plan. LCRA must approve the plans before a water sale contract is executed.
LCRA’s Highland Lakes Domestic Use Contract Program offers residential property owners contracts to pump water from one of the Highland Lakes for domestic use. The contracts are for up to 10 years and up to 10 acre-feet of water per year. These are firm water contracts.
Landscape irrigation and recreation use
LCRA offers long-term landscape irrigation and recreation contracts to property owner associations, parks and commercial properties. The contracts are for up to 10 years and up to 20 acre-feet per year.
Temporary raw water use
LCRA offers temporary water contracts for up to 10 acre-feet per year for up to three years. There is a different contract and application process for temporary contracts for more than 10 acre-feet per year or longer than three years.
LCRA's 2016 rate for first and second crop in the Garwood Irrigation Division is $42.08 or $49.88 per acre-foot delivered, depending on the customer's location in the canal system. The 2016 water rate for the Gulf Coast Irrigation Division is $39 per acre-foot delivered. The 2016 water rate for the Lakeside Irrigation Division is $42 per acre-foot delivered.
In February 2016, the LCRA Board of Directors approved updates to the Drought Contingency Plan, contract rules and contract forms for interruptible agricultural customers. The contracts impose excess use surcharges in the event customers exceed specific water use levels.