Stormwater Runoff Pollution Ordinance


Frequently Asked Questions

​​​​Click on the questions below to get answers about LCRA's stormwater runoff pollution ordinance.

Why manage stormwater?

Stormwater runoff is considered the largest source of pollution in the Highland Lakes. This is not surprising, since the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reports pollution in stormwater runoff accounts for more than 98 percent of the fecal and total coliform bacteria, 90 percent of the sediment, 80 percent of the nitrogen, and more than half of the phosphorus entering the nation’s rivers and streams.
The impacts of stormwater runoff can be widespread and severe, including:

  • Siltation of creeks and reservoirs.
  • Reduced fish and wildlife habitat.
  • Increased growth of aquatic weeds.
  • Algal blooms and fish kills.
  • Reduced recreational opportunities because of bacterial contamination and increased turbidity.
  • Contamination of food and water sources.

What are the benefits of managing stormwater?

Managing pollution caused by stormwater runoff is far less expensive than correcting it after it has occurred. The benefits of managing stormwater runoff pollution include:

  • Expanded recreational and tourism opportunities — and economic growth.
  • Increased property values and tax base along the river, lakes and tributaries.
  • Increased productivity of range and farmland, as well as aquatic ecosystems.
  • Reduced water treatment costs.
  • Preservation of diverse wildlife habitat.
  • Prolonged viability of water storage reservoirs.

What activities are covered by the Highland Lakes Watershed Ordinance?

The ordinance applies to all land modification activity within the Lake Travis watershed in Travis County, the Colorado River watershed in Burnet County and a portion of Llano County. See map showing the boundaries of the Highland Lakes Watershed Ordinance. The ordinance applies to the construction of buildings, roads, paved storage areas and parking lots. A permit may be required prior to commencing these activities. This includes any land-disturbing and construction activities, such as: clearing of vegetative cover, excavating, dredging and filling, grading, contouring, mining and the deposit of refuse, waste or fill. People conducting shoreline stabilization activities are required to follow LCRA dredge and fill standards.

Who needs to apply for a permit?

Anyone who performs work that falls under the definition of a development, quarry/mine activity, dredge and fill or utility construction must notify LCRA prior to beginning the activity. If the work exceeds thresholds established by the ordinance, a permit is required. The applicant may be the property owner, the developer or their designated representative.

Here are details of required permits​

  • Development permit: Required for development of land if impervious cover will exceed 10,000 square feet and/or if land disturbance will exceed 1 acre.
  • General utility permit: Required for utility construction anywhere within the jurisdictional area, including all routine construction, maintenance and repair work.
  • Dredge and fill permit: Required for activities that dredge more than 500 cubic yards or disturb more than 500 linear feet of shoreline.
  • Quarry or mine permit: Required for activities that create more than 10,000 square feet of impervious cover or disturb more than 5 acres of land, and for all quarry and mine activities within a buffer zone of a creek or river.

How much does a permit cost?

Where can I find the Stormwater Management Technical Manual (to assist developers and engineers)?

The technical manual can be found here.

How can I obtain more information about the requirements of the ordinance?

Read the requirements in the Highland Lakes Watershed Ordinance. If you have questions, call LCRA at 800-776-5272, ext. 2324.

Do I need to contact LCRA about a dredge and fill project?

A permit is required if a proposed dredge and fill project is more than 500 feet in length or dredges more than 500 cubic yards. All other dredge and fill projects require the property owner to provide a completed notification of no permit required form and the information listed on the dredge and fill projects checklistto LCRA for review. If you have questions, call 800-776-5272, ext. 2324.​