I wrote earlier this week about the need for the Texas legislature, during its next session beginning in January 2013, to fund the State Water Plan (see Ask the legislature to fund the water plan). I am writing now to share an update on Lake Travis and Lake Buchanan, where Austin and Travis County get virtually all of their water. This graphic from the LCRA provides a very good snapshot:
Unless it rains in the next three days, this will be the driest November in more than 100 years. Even without releasing water for “interruptible” downstream agricultural use in 2012 there is less water in the lakes today than we used in 2011.
Interestingly, by the end of September 2012 we recorded more rain this year than the 30-year annual average from 1981 through 2010. Most of it completely missed the Highland Lakes, however. The rainfall may help to reduce usage somewhat where it fell, but it did very little to replenish badly needed supply. Here is LCRA’s projection of possible future scenarios:
Stored volume in the lakes is already well below the 900,000 acre-foot trigger point and about equal to the “average conditions” forecast. Time will tell how long and how far lake levels will continue to fall, but there is no rational argument against implementing the State Water Plan. There are legitimate discussions to be had about how funding should be done, but it must be done during this legislative session.