Water Use Summary
LCRA Water Use Summary 2021
Total water use from the Highland Lakes and lower Colorado River decreased from 2020 to 2021. Water use from the Highland Lakes decreased by 43%, with reductions in all types of use. The increased runoff in the Colorado River downstream of the Highland Lakes in the late spring and early summer helped meet customer and environmental needs downstream. Diversions from the lower Colorado River increased by 18% from 2020 to 2021.
2021 Use (in acre-feet)
|LCRA and South Texas Project*||79,716|
|LCRA Gulf Coast*||41,893|
|LCRA Pierce Ranch*||5,955|
|LCRA Lakes Buchanan and Travis||211,841|
|SUBTOTAL – LCRA||433,833|
|City of Austin Water Rights*||136,013|
|Bastrop Energy Partners, LP*||180|
|SUBTOTAL – Other||136,193|
Highland Lakes water use – Contracts for water stored in lakes Buchanan and Travis can be for firm or interruptible supply. LCRA also supplies water from the Highland Lakes to help maintain environmental flows, as required by the state-approved Water Management Plan. In 2021, the Highland Lakes supplied 211,841 acre-feet of water for all uses.
Firm water contracts – These contracts supply cities, businesses and industries that need a reliable long-term water supply. Firm supply is expected to be available through a repeat of the driest conditions the region has experienced. Firm customers accounted for 135,415 acre-feet, or about 64% of all water used from the Highland Lakes, in 2021. This includes 1,450 acre-feet used in hydroelectric generation to meet emergency needs for electricity, mostly in February during Winter Storm Uri.
Interruptible water contracts – These contracts supply agricultural customers. Interruptible water is subject to cutbacks during drought conditions. Interruptible customers used 45,109 acre-feet, or about 21% of all water used from the Highland Lakes, in 2021.
Environmental – FFrom time to time, LCRA releases water from the Highland Lakes to meet environmental flow requirements for the Colorado River downstream of Austin and for Matagorda Bay. In 2021, LCRA released 31,317 acre-feet, or about 15% of water released from the Highland Lakes, for environmental flows.
Colorado River water use – In addition to the rights to water from the Highland Lakes, LCRA owns and manages other rights to the natural flow of the Colorado River. In 2021, a total of 221,992 acre-feet of water was supplied from the Colorado River for agricultural, municipal, industrial, recreation and firm irrigation uses under these water rights.
How does 2021 compare?
|Type of water use*||2017||2018||2019||2020||2021|
|Municipal (firm customers)||221,037||225,861||234,648||251,970||249,011|
|Water from the Highland Lakes||115,416||133,517||112,701||144,531||118,821|
|Water from the Colorado River†||105,621||92,344||121,947||107,439||130,190|
|Industrial (firm customers)||91,188||80,580||57,030||50,343||113,594|
|Water from the Highland Lakes||23,000||24,433||9,157||18,593||12,390|
|Water from the Colorado River†||68,188||56,147||47,873||31,750||101,204|
|Recreational and Irrigation (firm customers)||7,362||6,760||7,013||7,568||4,204|
|Water from the Highland Lakes||7,225||6,667||6,766||7,413||4,204|
|Water from the Colorado River||137||93||247||155||0|
|Agricultural (interruptible customers)||235,255||289,665||219,467||247,573||171,900|
|Water from the Highland Lakes||59,266||136,490||27,319||84,472||45,109|
|Water from the Colorado River||175,989||153,175||192,148||163,101||126,791|
(from the Highland Lakes)
|TOTAL WATER USE||622,604||658,789||580,112||673,040||570,026|
†Reported use includes water under water rights held by the City of Austin and Bastrop Energy Partners, LP and jointly by South Texas Project and LCRA
‡Environmental releases are made to meet environmental requirements set out in the LCRA Water Management Plan. Releases for downstream customers and runoff flowing into the river and bay also help satisfy environmental needs.