Drought Prompts Call for Conservation

With Lake Travis and Barton Springs hit hard by the drought, the call for more conservation funding grows louder

Barton Springs Pool
Barton Springs Pool (Photo by John Anderson)

Citing low levels of water in Lake Travis that discouraged Fourth of July weekend recreation, Environment Texas is calling on City Council to increase water conservation funding by at least one-third. "Lake Travis and Barton Springs are critical waterways for Central Texas. They provide us with clean, safe water to drink and beautiful places to escape the demands of the city and let our children play and swim," said Director Luke Metzger.

The advocacy group cited Lower Colorado River Authority statistics showing Lake Travis is 38 feet below full level, which has led to the closure of 11 of 12 boat ramps. The Don't Empty Lake Travis Association also is concerned that full closure of dam lanes could be imminent, which could eliminate public access to the lake.

Flows from the Edwards Aquifer to Barton Springs are now in a "critical stage drought." Metzger said the Texas Water Develop­ment Board encourages cities to set a long-term cap of using 140 gallons per capita daily. He said Austin projects using 177.5 gallons per capita daily this year; by contrast, San Antonio projects using 136 gallons per capita daily – the result of a more aggressive conservation program (forced by a tighter supply).

Environment Texas and the Save Our Springs Alliance called on the city to develop a plan to get down to 140 – rather than the current plan to get to 166 in 10 years – and then push lower. Meanwhile, Environment Texas is sending staff door-to-door throughout Austin to educate residents (12,000 so far) about the urgent situation, distribute literature, and get signatures on council petitions calling for increased public education, rebates, and auditing.

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drought, Environment Texas, Lower Colorado River Authority, Barton Springs, Lake Travis, Texas Water Development

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