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NOTICE OF AN APPLICATION TO AMEND THE LCRA WATER MANAGEMENT PLANNOTICE OF AN APPLICATION TO
AMEND THE LCRA WATER MANAGEMENT PLAN
APPLICATION NO. 5838A
Lower Colorado River Authority has applied for amendments to its Water Management Plan. More information on the application and how to participate in the permitting process is given below.
APPLICATION. Lower Colorado River Authority (Applicant or LCRA), P.O. Box 220, R325, Austin, Texas, 78767, seeks amendments to its Water Management Plan pursuant to Texas Water Code § 11.122 and Texas Commission on Environmental Quality Rules 30 Texas Administrative Code (TAC) § 295.1, et seq. Mailed and published notice of the application is being given to the water right holders of record in the Colorado River Basin pursuant to Title 30 TAC §295.158.
The Water Management Plan (WMP) for the Lower Colorado Basin defines LCRA’s water management programs and policies in accordance with the Final Order of Adjudication of the water rights for the Lower Colorado River Authority, the Enabling Act of the Lower Colorado River Authority, General Law of the State of Texas, particularly the Texas Water Code, LCRA’s Certificates of Adjudication Nos. 14-5478 and 14-5482, as amended, , the Commission’s Orders concerning the WMP, and the water policies of the Lower Colorado River Authority’s Board of Directors.
Revisions to the WMP were last approved by the Commission on January 27, 2010. This order approving the previous amendment to the WMP required LCRA to file another amendment to address the following:
a. Interruptible curtailment procedures to ensure LCRA can satisfy projected firm customer demands during intense drought conditions such as those experienced over the past several decades;
b. Evaluation of the criteria for determining a drought worse than the Drought of Record;
c. Evaluation of the minimum combined storage in Lake Travis and Buchanan that would be necessary or appropriate to protect firm water customers either during a repeat of the Drought of Record or under worse conditions;
d. Incorporation of changes to address LCRA’s agreements with STP Nuclear Operating Company (STPNOC);
e. LCRA’s 2007 agreement with the City of Austin regarding return flows in the lower Colorado River;
f. Revisions to LCRA’s procedures for providing water for environmental flows using the best scientific data available including provisions to accommodate changing conditions within a year, limiting intra-daily fluctuations in streamflows, and, to the maximum extent reasonable, specification of an overall instream flow regime.
The applicant has requested numerous changes to the WMP designed to: 1) address increased demands from its firm customers; 2) incorporate updated environmental flow studies; and 3) incorporate LCRA’s agreements with STP Nuclear Operating Company and the City of Austin.
LCRA’s revisions to the WMP fall within four areas:
• Changes to annual availability decisions and curtailment policies for interruptible stored water.
Under the WMP, firm demands take precedence over all other uses; therefore, LCRA’s proposed amendment to the WMP requests a reduction in interruptible supplies to offset the increase in firm demands. LCRA’s projected firm demands between 2010 and 2020 (“Interim Demand Phase”) are approximately 352,303 acre-feet per year and the projected firm demands for 2020 (“Year 2020 Demand Phase”) are approximately 416,000 acre-feet per year.
LCRA will determine availability of interruptible stored water for downstream irrigation operations separately for the first or main crop and then the second or ratoon crop.
On an annual basis, the amount of interruptible stored water made available for diversion by the four downstream irrigation operations is limited to a capped amount. No more than 278,500 acre-feet per year of interruptible stored water will be available for both crops during the Interim Demand Phase and no more than 254,000 acre-feet per year of interruptible stored water will be available for both crops during the Year 2020 Demand Phase.
The annual cap only applies to the amount of interruptible stored water and not to water that may be available under LCRA’s downstream senior run-of-river water rights.
The WMP includes curtailment curves and procedures for determining the specific amounts of interruptible stored water available for first and second crops for each downstream irrigation operation and provides that the amount of available interruptible stored water for the second crop will be adjusted if necessary to stay within the annual cap.
For the first crop, the amount of available interruptible stored water will be determined on January 1st of each calendar year. If the combined storage in Lakes Travis and Buchanan increases by March 1st, LCRA will supply interruptible stored water to the extent provided for under the applicable “interim” or “2020” curtailment curves.
For the second crop, the amount of interruptible stored water will be determined on June 1st of each calendar year. If the combined storage in Lakes Travis and Buchanan increases by August 1st, LCRA will supply interruptible stored water to the extent provided for under the applicable “interim” or “2020” curtailment curves.
The total amount of interruptible stored water to be made available for diversion during the Interim Demand Phase and Year 2020 Demand Phase for the first and the second crops are described on page 4-9 of the proposed WMP and evidenced in the curves provided in Section 126.96.36.199 of the proposed WMP.
LCRA shall cease supplying interruptible stored water from Lakes Buchanan and Travis for agricultural use to Lakeside, Pierce Ranch and Gulf Coast anytime combined storage in Lakes Travis and Buchanan falls to 600,000 acre-feet or less.
If the LCRA Board declares a Drought Worse than Drought of Record, the supply of interruptible stored water available for diversion will immediately cease and no interruptible stored water will be made available to Lakeside, Pierce Ranch and Gulf Coast until the declaration is cancelled. The cutoff of interruptible stored water to the Garwood irrigation division will be consistent with existing contracts between Garwood and LCRA.
The amount of water to be allocated to the downstream irrigation operations will be consistent with applicable agreements and contracts. Specific amounts for first and second crops for both the interim and 2020 conditions are discussed in the proposed WMP in Sections 4.3.3 through 4.3.9.
In the event of certain combined storage and wetter than normal weather forecast conditions, LCRA may allocate an additional amount of run-of-river water to the Gulf Coast Irrigation Division over and above the amount described in Section 4.3.4 in accordance with the provisions of LCRA’s Drought Contingency Plan.
LCRA proposes that it be granted increased discretion to deviate from its WMP by allowing it to determine that a different amount of interruptible stored water would be made available under specific severe dry weather conditions. LCRA does not specify specific numerical values and criteria for the curtailment although it does specify the conditions that would trigger a modification of the applicable WMP curtailment procedures. LCRA proposes that if the LCRA Board adopts modified curtailment procedures it will notify TCEQ. Further, the proposed WMP states that LCRA will reinstate the existing WMP procedures if TCEQ issues an order requiring that they be reinstated.
• Implementation of a phased approach for curtailment policies.
Due to the projected increase in demand LCRA has developed and proposes a two phased approach with two sets of curtailment procedures applying to irrigation operations and environmental flow criteria. Using this phased approach results in more interruptible supply during the near term (interim conditions), before firm demand reaches the 2020 level of demands.
The shift from interim curtailment procedures to the 2020 curtailment procedures will occur on the earlier of January 1, 2020, or on January 1st of the year following when:
a. Actual demand is greater than or equal to 352,303 acre-feet per year (the firm water demand assumed for the interim curtailment procedures) for any two consecutive years; or
b. Actual demand in any year is greater than 352,303 acre-feet and the actual plus projected incremental water use from new or existing contracts is expected to exceed 352,303 acre-feet in the next year by more than five percent.
• A new determination of the combined firm yield.
Based on updated modeling using a modified version of the TCEQ’s water availability model (WAM) for the Colorado River Basin, the combined firm yield of Lakes Travis and Buchanan is reduced from 535,812 acre-feet (which includes 90,546 acre-feet of water associated with O.H. Ivie Reservoir) to 439,155 acre-feet (which does not include an amount for O.H. Ivie Reservoir). The new combined firm yield is a reduction of 6,111 acre-feet from the previously calculated combined firm yield.
• New environmental flow criteria based on the most recent scientific studies and implementation of those criteria.
LCRA’s amendment to the WMP includes a change in the procedure for supplying water to help meet instream flow needs at certain locations downstream of Lady Bird Lake and incorporates specific instream flow values based on the most recent scientific studies as follows:
a. Three levels of instream flows: 1) subsistence; 2) base-dry; and 3) base-average.
b. The amount of water provided for instream flows, i.e. whether subsistence, base-dry, or base-average flow levels would apply, will be determined on January 1st for March through June and on June 1st for July through February of the following year.
c. The specific trigger levels for determining which instream flow levels apply are:
i. When the combined storage in Lakes Travis and Buchanan is above 1,960, 000 acre-feet, base-average conditions apply;
ii. When the combined storage in Lakes Travis and Buchanan is between 1,900,000 and 1,960,000 acre-feet, base-dry conditions apply; and
iii. When the combined storage in Lakes Travis and Buchanan is less than 1,900,000 acre-feet, subsistence conditions apply.
LCRA will make releases from Lakes Buchanan and Travis limited to the storable inflows to help meet base-average and base-dry instream flows. In addition to storable inflows, previously stored water will be released as necessary to maintain Subsistence flows at the four streamflow gauging locations identified in Table 4-3 of the WMP.
In the event of a pro rata curtailment of firm supplies, the applicable instream flow criteria will be subject to the same percentage curtailment as imposed on LCRA’s firm water customers.
For this amendment to the WMP, the subsistence and base flow criteria for gages other than the Austin gage, are daily (or daily average) flow values. The subsistence criteria at the Austin gage represent minimum (or instantaneous) flow requirements.
LCRA’s ability to meet the instream flow requirements set forth in the WMP may, in rare instances, be impaired by certain unavoidable constraints such as the capacity of its hydro-generation units and hydro-generation scheduling mandates as well as unforeseen diversions, unforeseen changes in flow conditions downstream, and adjustments to the ratings of the applicable gages.
For the Bastrop gage, the following minimum flow requirements apply:
i. During those times when base-average criteria are in effect, the minimum (or instantaneous) flow requirements, subject to availability of storable inflows, shall be 70 percent of the base-average criteria for the given month.
ii. During those times when base-dry criteria are in effect, the minimum (or instantaneous) flow requirements, subject to availability of storable inflows, shall be 70 percent of the base-dry criteria for the given month.
iii. During those times that subsistence criteria are in effect, releases shall be scheduled such that the minimum flow does not drop below:
1. 90 percent of the subsistence criteria when the combined storage in Lakes Travis and Buchanan is equal to or greater than 1,400,000 acre-feet; or
2. 80 percent of the subsistence criteria when the combined storage in Lakes Travis and Buchanan is less than 1,400,000 acre-feet.
LCRA is not required to manage water in the lower Colorado River to specifically provide for pulse flows under this amendment to the WMP. However, LCRA will monitor pulse flows during the time period that this amendment to the WMP is in effect to assess whether pulse flows are occurring at the frequency recommended in the 2008 instream flow study of the lower Colorado River.
LCRA’s amendment to the WMP includes a change in the procedures for supplying water to help meet freshwater inflow needs, incorporates freshwater inflow criteria based on the most recent scientific studies, and is summarized as follows in Sections 2.4.2 and 4.5.3 of the proposed WMP:
a. The freshwater inflow criteria are based upon recent studies.
b. The WMP freshwater inflow criteria include five levels of inflow to help meet freshwater inflow needs and are defined using two-month operational criteria, as described in Table 4-5 of the proposed WMP.
c. At the end of each month, LCRA will provide storable inflows, if available, as necessary to meet the two-month operational criteria.
d. In all months, LCRA will provide, to the extent of storable inflows, at least 15,000 acre-feet per month.
e. In the event of a pro rata curtailment of firm supplies, the applicable freshwater inflow criteria will be subject to the same percentage curtailment as imposed on LCRA’s firm water customers.
f. The combined storage trigger at which specific freshwater inflow levels apply can be found in Tables 4-6 and 4-7 of the WMP for the Interim and 2020 conditions, respectively.
LCRA committed 33,440 acre-feet of firm water to environmental needs under the 2010 WMP. That amount is not changed in this amendment.
LCRA’s proposed Drought Contingency Plan (DCP), for firm and interruptible customers is incorporated within Chapter 4 of the WMP. LCRA’s DCP, as required by commission rules (30 Texas Administrative Code §§ 288.20 et seq.), was approved by the LCRA Board of Directors and submitted to the commission in June 2010. In December of 2011, the commission approved LCRA’s Water Curtailment Plan for its firm customers. Under current commission rules, the DCP must be reviewed and updated as necessary every five years. Consistent with the requirements of Chapter 288, in February, 2012, the LCRA Board approved modifications to the DCP including changes in drought response measures for firm water customers and changes in the allocation procedures for interruptible water customers.
The proposed WMP contains five appendices: 1)Appendix A, which include technical papers addressing projections of demands, assumptions of water availability models (WAMs), methodology of drought identification, and development of the combined firm yields of Lakes Buchanan and Travis, and WAMs; 2)Appendix B, which contains flood control regulation information; 3)Appendix C, which includes previous amendments and orders to the WMP; 4)Appendix D, which includes the 1988 Final Judgment and Decree; and 5)Appendix E, which contains relevant LCRA Board policies.
The application and fees were received on March 12, 2012. Additional information was received on April 11, 2012, April 12, 2012, May 1, 2012, May 31, 2012, September 10, 2012, and November 12, 2012. The application was declared administratively complete and filed with the Office of the Chief Clerk on April 19, 2012.
The TCEQ Executive Director (ED) has completed the technical review of the application. The ED’s technical analysis of the Water Management Plan evaluated the impacts of this amendment on existing water rights and the environment. The Executive Director prepared a draft Order Approving Amendments to LCRA’s Water Management Plan. The draft Order does not allow LCRA additional discretion to modify its curtailment procedures during dry years and requires LCRA to submit an amendment to its Water Management Plan by January 30, 2020. LCRA’s amended Water Management Plan, if granted, is subject to all findings, conclusions, and conditions contained in the Commission’s Order. The application and Executive Director’s draft Order Approving Amendments to LCRA’s Water Management Plan are available for viewing and copying at the Office of the Chief Clerk, 12100 Park 35 Circle, Building F., Austin, TX 78753.A list of zip codes in which persons reside who may be affected by this application has been provided by the applicant to the TCEQ. To request a copy, contact Tracie Donnelly at Tracie.Donnelly@tceq.texas.gov or (512) 239-0083.
PUBLIC COMMENT / PUBLIC MEETING. Written public comments and requests for a public meeting should be submitted to the Office of Chief Clerk, at the address provided in the information section below, within 30 days of the date of newspaper publication of the notice. A public meeting is intended for the taking of public comment, and is not a contested case hearing. A public meeting will be held if the Executive Director determines that there is a significant degree of public interest in the application.
CONTESTED CASE HEARING. The TCEQ may grant a contested case hearing on this application if a written hearing request is filed within 30 days from the date of newspaper publication of this notice. The Executive Director may approve the application unless a written request for a contested case hearing is filed within 30 days after newspaper publication of this notice.
To request a contested case hearing, you must submit the following: (1) your name (or for a group or association, an official representative), mailing address, daytime phone number, and fax number, if any: (2) applicant's name and permit number; (3) the statement "[I/we] request a contested case hearing;" and (4) a brief and specific description of how you would be affected by the application in a way not common to the general public. You may also submit any proposed conditions to the requested amendment which would satisfy your concerns. Requests for a contested case hearing must be submitted in writing to the TCEQ Office of the Chief Clerk at the address provided in the information section below.
If a hearing request is filed, the Executive Director will not issue the requested amendment and may forward the application and hearing request to the TCEQ Commissioners for their consideration at a scheduled Commission meeting.
INFORMATION. Written hearing requests, public comments or requests for a public meeting should be submitted to the Office of the Chief Clerk, MC 105, TCEQ, P.O. Box 13087, Austin, TX 78711-3087 or electronically at http://www.tceq.state.tx.us/about/comments.html. For information concerning the hearing process, please contact the Public Interest Counsel, MC 103, the same address. For additional information, individual members of the general public may contact the Public Education Program at 1-800-687-4040. General information regarding the TCEQ can be found at our web site at www.tceq.state.tx.us. Si desea información en Español, puede llamar al 1-800-687-4040 o por el internet al http://www.tceq.state.tx.us.
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