You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.


  • ePAPER

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and bonus content- exclusively for subscribers. Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks


Welcome to

This subscriber-only site gives you exclusive access to breaking news, in-depth coverage, exclusive interactives and bonus content.

You can read free articles of your choice a month that are only available on

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

Austin expands remote council comment program
Austin expands remote council comment program

Open hailing frequencies to City Hall! Beginning in May, even more Austinites will be able to give the City Council a piece of their mind without having to make the trek down downtown — all thanks to expansion of the remote public comment program. “Remote citizen communication makes government more accessible to Austinites,” Mayor...
Transgender bathrooms overshadow Dripping Springs school board race
Transgender bathrooms overshadow Dripping Springs school board race

Three candidates, including two incumbents, are vying for two school board seats in Dripping Springs, where a battle over which bathroom a transgender student should use has overshadowed a typically low-key race. The trio — incumbent Ron Jones, a consultant; incumbent Barbara Stroud, a family law attorney; Trey Powers, a senior mortgage loan...
Wear: 500 more Texas toll roads? Activist’s claim doesn’t hold up
Wear: 500 more Texas toll roads? Activist’s claim doesn’t hold up

Like most of us in this Time of Trump, my truthiness antennae have been getting a workout. And sometimes an alternative fact or two can flit by those groggy sensors unnoticed. But 500 toll projects on the way in Texas? That one came courtesy last week of Terri Hall, the indefatigable toll road opponent from Comal County who has been showing up at Capitol...
COMMUNITY NEWS: Austinite elected Texas State Button Society president

CENTRAL TEXAS Dell Children’s expands child safety seat program The Pediatric Level I Trauma Center at Dell Children’s Medical Center of Central Texas recently announced it will expand its child safety seat inspection program to families in Bastrop, Blanco, Burnet, Caldwell, Hays and Williamson counties. The Kids in Cars program expansion...
PolitiFact: Texas deputy’s death gets turned into fake news
PolitiFact: Texas deputy’s death gets turned into fake news

Several websites put a fake headline on a real news story about a Texas sheriff’s deputy being shot and killed, falsely reporting that three Muslim refugees pulled the trigger. “Texas law enforcement officer fatally shot upon arriving for work by 3 Muslim refugee (sic),” read the April 4 post on &ldquo...
More Stories