October’s heavy rains, despite flooding in the Austin area, amounted to a trickle into the much depleted lakes that provide much of the region its water. So the Lower Colorado River Authority’s board decided Tuesday to ask the state for permission to cut off water releases for downstream rice farmers who rely on the same reservoirs unless they rise significantly by March.
The move, the third year in a row that the water management agency decided to withhold water for coastal agriculture, could destroy the Texas rice industry, according to farmers and those who depend on the farmers for their livelihoods.
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The board of the Lower Colorado River Authority decided to require all of its so-called firm customers — mostly cities, municipal utility districts and some businesses in Central Texas — to limit lawn watering to once a week by March if low lake levels persist. Those customers include:
- Austin (limits watering to once a week)
- Cedar Park (limits watering to once a week)
- Pflugerville (limits watering to once a week)
- Leander (limits watering to twice a week)
- Dripping Springs Water Supply Corp. (limits watering to once a week)
- Lago Vista (limits watering to once a week)
- Jonestown Water Supply Corp. (limits watering to twice a week)