Published on March 10, 2014
© 2014 Texas Drought and Watermaster Update Molly Cagle March 5, 2014
2014 LCRA Emergency Order
Look at the watershed above and the Highland Lakes
Key Points 600,000 af storage is 2010 WMP cutoff 100% curtailment for interruptible 20% pro rata curtailment on firm Cutoff modified in '12 and '13 emergency orders Should cutoff be modified in 2014? If so, at what storage capacity should it be lifted?
Inflows to Highland Lakes Five of the lowest inflow years on record occurred within the last six years.
How did we get here? LCRA applies for Emergency Order Commission considers ED's Order ED issues Emergency Order Exceptions Commission considers Emergency Order Dec. 10, 2013 Jan. 27, 2014 Feb. 12 Hearing on the merits Feb. 17 PFD Feb. 21 Feb. 24 Feb. 26
ED Emergency Order No interruptible releases now 1.1 trigger on future releases Automatic renewal if below 1.1 M AF on May 26 Cap on total releases depends upon storage If combined storage is… Interruptible releases up to… < 1.1 M zero ≥ 1.1 M but < 1.2 M 100,000 AF ≥ 1.2 M but < 1.3 M 124,000 AF ≥ 1.3 M but < 1.4 M 148,000 AF ≥ 1.4 M 172,000 AF
How did we get here? LCRA applies for Emergency Order Commission considers ED's Order ED issues Emergency Order Exceptions Commission issues Modified Emergency Order Dec. 10, 2013 Jan. 27, 2014 Feb. 12 Hearing on the merits Feb. 17 PFD Feb. 21 Feb. 24 Feb. 26
Legal Issue Texas Water Code 11.139 "Emergency conditions exist which present an imminent threat to the public health and safety and which override the necessity to comply with established statutory procedures" No feasible practicable alternatives to the emergency authorization. Emergency Order has 120 day life; may be renewed once for not longer than 60 days. Affirm, modify, or set aside the emergency authorization.
"Imminent threat to public health and safety" Intake structures already out of water-more soon Wells already dry Firefighters unable to access lake water Urban tree canopy Concrete foundations No alternatives
Reality Concern about hitting 600,000 af -DWDR Concern about indoor water use restrictions Comfort zone Precedent of cap Precedent generally Economics and public perception
Future With Irrigation Release
Future Without Irrigation Release
Results ALJ Recommends No interruptible releases now 1.4 M AF trigger 172,000 AF cap on releases Automatic renewal TCEQ Adopts No interruptible releases now No trigger level No automatic renewal To be continued…
BRAZOS RIVER WATERMASTER
Brazos River Overview • 840 miles long • 42,620 sq. mi watershed • 19 major reservoirs
Planning Regions G, H, and O
October Snapshot 2000 - 2013
Texas Water Code § 11.027 As Between Appropriators, First in Time, First in Right
Senior Priority Calls 2009 2011 2012 2013
Texas Watermaster Programs
Tex. Water Code § 11.325 - Water Divisions The commission shall divide the state into water divisions for the purpose of administering adjudicated water rights. Water divisions may be created from time to time as the necessity arises. The divisions shall be constituted to secure the best protection to the holders of water rights and the most economical supervision on the part of the state.
Sunset legislation, HB 2694 (2011) 11.326(g) For a water basin in which a watermaster is not appointed, the executive director shall: (1) evaluate the water basin at least once every five years to determine whether a watermaster should be appointed; and (2) report the findings and make recommendations to the commission.
Executive Director October 2012 Brazos Basin Recommendation 34 water right holders commented 23 opposed 7 in favor 4 neutral ED recommendation: Threat to senior water rights would be best articulated by those water rights holders impacted Invited petition per §11.451
Tex. Water Code §11.451 On petition of 25 or more holders of water rights in a river basin or segment of a river basin or on its own motion the commission may authorize the executive director to appoint a watermaster for a river basin or segment of a river basin if the commission finds that the rights of senior water rights holders in the basin or segment of the basin are threatened.
Tex. Water Code § 11.452 (a) On receiving a petition for appointment of a watermaster or on its own motion, the commission shall call and hold a hearing to determine if a need exists for appointment of a watermaster for the river basin or segment of the river basin. (b) At the hearing persons who hold water rights in the river basin or segment of the river basin may appear before the commission and submit testimony and evidence relating to the need for appointment of a watermaster. (c) After the hearing, the commission shall make a written determination as to whether a threat exists to the rights of senior water rights holders in the river basin or segment of the river basin and shall issue an order either finding that a threat exists and directing appointment of a watermaster or denying appointment of a watermaster.
Brazos River Watermaster Hearing Threat Need Appropriate Geographic Scope January 2013 Petition Filed April 2013 Preliminary Hearing February 2013 Petition Considered at Agenda December 2013 Proposal for Decision Sept. 23-26, 2013 Live Hearing April or May ? Agenda
Proponents Hearing Themes Prior appropriation is the law and it exists to deal with shortages Recurring periods of shortage and increasing basin demands Protection of vested property rights Planning tools assume implementation of prior appropriation Reactive management to calls or complaints does not negate existence of or sufficiently address threat Whole basin is hydrologically connected Watermaster is the tool provided by Legislature to enable data collection and proactive management
Opponents Hearing Themes Priority Call implementation is sufficient Drought Tiger Teams Improvement from 40+ days to goal of less than 10 Days Limited occurrence Government intrusiveness "Upper Basin" is distinct in climate and hydrology and Possum Kingdom is a sufficient divide Other carve outs
Jurisdictional challenge Particularly preyed upon by [supporters of the watermaster] were the deceased, the cancer ridden,the demented and elderly and their naïve sullen survivors. Some Petitioners dropped out
Proposal for Decision Threat - Clearly exists Need - Evidence was overwhelming Geographic scope - Entire Basin is appropriate
Brazos Watermaster Outcome TCEQ Agenda Legislature
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