Water Management Plan for the Highland Lakes

LCRA manages lakes Travis and Buchanan under a state-approved Water Management Plan.

The plan governs LCRA's operation of the Highland Lakes to supply water to users throughout the lower Colorado River basin.

During a drought, the Water Management Plan requires that LCRA curtail or cut off interruptible stored water from the Highland Lakes for most downstream agriculture so firm water supplies will be available to meet the basic needs of cities, businesses and industries. The plan also requires LCRA to provide water from the lakes to help meet the environmental needs of the lower Colorado River and Matagorda Bay.

The current plan enables LCRA to adapt its operations as water supply conditions change, curtailing the availability of interruptible water as a drought worsens. The plan establishes three sets of operating conditions to determine the availability of interruptible stored water, which is primarily used by agricultural customers in Colorado, Wharton and Matagorda counties. It also sets two dates – March 1 and July 1 – for determining the amount of interruptible stored water available for first and second crops. 

Updating the Water Management Plan

LCRA's Water Management Plan is the only one of its kind in the state. It is required by a 1988 court order that determined water rights for the Highland Lakes and the lower Colorado River basin. The state approved the first Water Management Plan in 1989, and approved updates in 1991, 1992, 1999, 2010 and 2015.

In 2018, LCRA began the process of updating the 2015 Water Management Plan, as required by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. The process will include input from TCEQ and interested parties. LCRA plans to submit a proposed plan to TCEQ for approval in 2019.

2015 Water Management Plan