The future capability to provide additional surface water resources to Matagorda County will take another step toward completion with the groundbreaking ceremony for the Lane City Reservoir scheduled for Dec. 10.

A project of the Lower Colorado River Authority, the groundbreaking is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. at the reservoir location 1096 County Road 120 in Wharton County. The reservoir property is located on the east side of State Highway 60.

While invitations have been sent out, Thursday’s groundbreaking ceremony is open to the public.

“Any and all are welcome at the groundbreaking,” LCRA Public Information Officer Clara Tuma said. “This will be a historic event and we look forward to sharing the day with our friends and neighbors in the area.”

According to a Sept. 17 news release, the LCRA Board of Directors “took historic action to expand and protect the water supply of the lower Colorado River basin.” That action included giving final approval to the 40,000 acre-foot off-channel reservoir near Lane City. According to the release, the reservoir could be filled several times a year, adding up to 90,000 acre-feet of firm water to the region’s supply.

With the addition of that resource, the LCRA Board also agreed to revise LCRA’s 2012 proposed amendments to the Water Management Plan, which sets out how water from lakes Travis and Buchanan is managed.

The $214.9 million reservoir is expected to begin operating in 2017.

“This is a major step that will benefit the entire region for generations,” said Timothy Timmerman, chair of the LCRA Board of Directors. “This will be the first significant new water supply reservoir for this region since the Highland Lakes were built back in the 1930s and 40s.

“We know we can’t fix the drought, but the key to working through the drought is conservation and development of new water supplies, and I’m proud to say LCRA is leading the way in both.”

According to the release, the new reservoir will reduce the need to send water from the Highland Lakes to meet water needs near the coast, and improve agricultural water reliability and efficiency. The reservoir also will reduce the risk of water curtailment.  

“This project makes common sense and it makes economic sense,” LCRA General Manager Phil Wilson said. “Everyone in the basin will benefit from this reservoir. Not only will it improve the reliability of water for agriculture, it also will keep more water in the Highland Lakes. That benefits everyone in the basin, because the determination of how much water is available for use throughout the basin is based on the amount of water in the lakes.” 

In February 2012, the LCRA Board committed to increasing the firm water supply by at least 100,000 acre-feet by 2017. The reservoir will play a major role in meeting that goal. LCRA also is pursuing the use of groundwater in Bastrop County and other new water supply projects.

The LCRA Board earlier approved $35 million in funding for land and preliminary engineering, permitting and design. Almost $159 million of the remaining $179.9 million cost will be spent for construction of the reservoir. The remainder will be spent for engineering, permitting, testing and inspection, and a contingency fund.

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