breaking news

Winter storm warning until 6 p.m.; drivers to face risks of ice, winds

Environmental group seeks water models from LCRA

A Houston nonprofit sued the Lower Colorado River Authority on Wednesday to get copies of computer-based water models the utility uses.

The suit, filed by the Matagorda Bay Foundation in state district court in Austin, is the latest effort by coastal interests to protect the flow of freshwater into the Gulf of Mexico.

The foundation, headed by a prominent Texas environmental attorney, claims that the LCRA has withheld public information — specifically hydrologic models. Representing environmental and fishing interests, the foundation says in its suit that it wants to ensure that Colorado River water makes its way down to the Gulf.

In the court filing, the foundation says the LCRA used the computer models as support for a Wharton County reservoir now under construction at a cost of more than $200 million.

“LCRA’s mission often seems as if it is to use as much water as possible at all times for human use and to disregard the role water plays in the river itself or in the estuary,” the suit says. “Matagorda Bay Foundation’s mission on the other hand is to ensure that adequate environmental and instream flows are protected forever so that Matagorda Bay does not become a dead zone.”

GET THE DAY’S LATEST NEWS: Click here to sign up for our Afternoon Updates email

The foundation initially sought the water models a year ago; the river authority said the water models were protected from release because they were relevant to ongoing litigation, among other reasons, and the state attorney general’s office ruled in the LCRA’s favor.

The foundation re-filed the open records request this year — the foundation claims that contentious water management issues that might have held up the disclosure of the records in the past had been resolved — but the river authority again cited a raft of exemptions, prompting the foundation’s suit.

“We have received MBF’s lawsuit and are reviewing it,” said LCRA spokesman Bill Lauderback.

Jim Blackburn, an environmental attorney who is a board member of the foundation, has been at the heart of a string of battles to ensure water remains in rivers.

RELATED: Central Texas rains lead to spike in hydroelectricity

Last week, the foundation, formed in 1995, filed suit in federal court in Houston to press federal agencies to protect fish habitat in the Gulf. In the past, the foundation has contested permits for water supply projects that it says would reduce freshwater inflow into Matagorda Bay

Blackburn had previously said he would build a federal case that water cut-offs in the Colorado River basin could harm an endangered sea turtle.

If successful, that strategy threatened to tie federal habitat protection to water releases, complicating the way the Lower Colorado River Authority doles out water from Austin to Bay City.

He was also involved in an effort, ultimately unsuccessful, to tie the deaths of whooping cranes to water use decisions by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, which authorizes the use of river water around the state, and the Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority.

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Local

Police: 13 siblings held captive in California residence
Police: 13 siblings held captive in California residence

A California couple was arrested Sunday after 13 siblings, ranging in age from 2 to 29, were allegedly held captive in a home, with several children “shackled to their beds with chains and padlocks in dark and foul-smelling surroundings,” the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department said Monday. In a news release, the Sheriff&rsquo...
AIRPORT ALERT: More than 70 flights canceled at Austin-Bergstrom amid winter weather
AIRPORT ALERT: More than 70 flights canceled at Austin-Bergstrom amid winter weather

As falling temperatures and continued precipitation Tuesday morning created ideal condition for ice accumulation in Central Texas, more than 70 flights arriving or departing from Austin-Bergstrom International Airport had been canceled.  AIRPORT CANCELLATIONS: See all canceled or delayed flights at ABIA A total of 12 arrivals bound for Austin...
WEATHER: Winter storm warning until 6 p.m.; drivers to face risks of ice, winds
WEATHER: Winter storm warning until 6 p.m.; drivers to face risks of ice, winds

Tuesday forecast for Austin: For Central Texas – including the Austin metro area counties of Travis, Williamson, Hays, Bastrop and Caldwell – a winter storm warning is in effect until 6 p.m. Tuesday, the National Weather Service says. After a strong cold front pushed through Central Texas overnight, delivering high winds and widespread...
Community news: 10 women to be honored by Austin group March 31

TRAVIS COUNTY EAST AUSTIN Ten women to be honored The Austin Metroplex Chapter of National Women of Achievement Inc. will induct 10 honorees for the 15th Biennial African-American Women’s Profiles of Prominence ceremony at 6 p.m. March 31. The free ceremony will be at St. James Missionary Baptist Church, 3417 E. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.,...
Good Samaritan riding Chicago train gives snow boots to homeless man
Good Samaritan riding Chicago train gives snow boots to homeless man

Giving someone the shirt off your back is a time-worn phrase that means performing an act of kindness to help someone. A Chicago man helped a homeless man by giving him the snow boots off his feet, WLS reported. Jessica Bell posted the good Samaritan act on Facebook. She said she was riding a train home last week when she saw Maurice Anderson...
More Stories