The 862-mile (1,387-kilometers) long Colorado River originates near Lubbock Texas and flows southeast through the Texas Hill Country to the Gulf of Mexico at Matagorda Bay. There are 11 major reservoirs along the Colorado River, including the six that make up the Highland Lakes System (Lake Buchanan, Lake LBJ, Inks Lake, Lake Marble Falls, Lake Travis, Lake Austin, and Lady Bird Lake). The river with its reservoirs is an important source of water for farming, cities, and electrical power production. The reservoirs are important for flood control, water conservation and storage, and recreation. Colorado River water is also used to cool the South Texas Nuclear Project near Bay City.
You have been hired by the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) and the Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA) to head a team of researchers to analyze the positive and negative impacts of the Highland Lakes System and to develop a set of recommendations regarding future conservation and development. You should consider how weather patterns and Texas’ highly variable climate result in major flood events and droughts (records go back to 1895); explore the impact of population growth on water planning; and investigate secondary impacts related to agriculture and tourism/recreation. You will also need to track storage, usage, and replenishment rates for the past 25 years. You will present your report at a series of town hall meetings to communities who rely on the Highland Lakes System for their water.