Highland Lakes

Ryan Poppe / TPR News

After being told by the LCRA that they could face a third growing season with no irrigation water, some rice farmers near the Gulf Coast are considering spending millions of dollars to drill for groundwater.

The LCRA decided they were stopping the flow of water downstream from the Highland Lakes because of low lake levels due to drought conditions.

Roland Gurtson, a rice farmer from Wharton County, said he was one of several farmers who has spent the last two years trying to survive on crop insurance.

Ryan Poppe / TPR News

 The Board of Directors for the Lower Colorado River Authority has approved the next phase of a downstream reservoir that will capture some of the water heading to Matagorda Bay.

This week, the LCRA board approved spending $17 million that will go toward finalizing the design of the reservoir in Wharton County.

The LCRA’s Clara Tuma said the reservoir in the lower basin will provide fresh water to the Gulf Coast bays, as well as Texas rice farmers on the coastal plains.

Ryan Poppe / TPR News

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality will hear public testimony Wednesday on the Lower Colorado River Authority’s emergency request to stop the flow of water heading downstream to Texas rice farmers.

Jennifer Walker with the Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club said they are especially concerned with this year’s emergency order because of the number involved.

Lower Colorado River Authority

The Lower Colorado River Authority has rescinded its request to block the flow of water headed downstream into Matagorda Bay from the Highland Lakes.

In the early part of October, the LCRA issued an emergency request from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, but this Tuesday they said recent rains that led to flooding in sections of Central Texas brought the lake levels up to a suitable level.

Parts of Central Texas saw as much as 12 inches of rain over the weekend. Water levels in the Highland Lakes  rose slightly, but the storm was far from a drought-buster.

Lakes Travis and Buchanan remain only about one-third full.