The return of the rain may not be enough to save the livelihoods of the remaining farmers, mainly rice and grain farmers, who rely on water from the Highland Lakes.
1200 WOAI news reports that a split Lower Colorado River Authority board has voted 8-7 to ask the state for permission to cut off all water supplies to the Colorado River downstream farmers in March if the lake levels do not improve.
This would be a third straight year that their water supplies have been curtailed, and the decision would probably put the remaining farmers out of business.
“We understand how painful this drought has been from one end of the Colorado River basin to the other, but we have to protect the drinking water supply for more than a million Central Texans,” said Board Chair Timothy Timmerman, who voted with the majority.
The level of Lakes Buchanan and Travis remains at 55%, despite several heavy rains in the area over the last month. The LCFRA board stresses that the cut off request will not be made until March 1, and could be rescinded if ample rain falls over the coming three months.
The cut off would include tough restrictions on water use by homeowners who get their water from the Highland Lakes. Some water officials in Austin have even said that restrictions on indoor uses of water may be possible.
The new rules would cover fines of up to $10,000 a day for violators.
Under state water rights law, residential and commercial water users have priority over agricultural users.