The Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA) dedicated the Scott Arbuckle Reservoir, a new off-channel 1,000-acre reservoir outside of Lane City just south of Wharton, Texas, on Feb. 20, after only five years of planning, design and completed construction. The reservoir adds nearly 90,000 ac-ft of water storage to the LCRA system. This is the first new water added to the LCRA system in more than 50 years and it will be critical to reducing demand on the Highland Lakes in central Texas. The location allows LCRA to take advantage of the higher average rainfall in this part of the lower river basin, nearly double that of the Highland Lakes area.

The project is designed to capture water from the river when it is running higher than normal and store it. Water will be pumped out as needed for use for firm and interruptible customers, including rice farming and environmental uses.

"This new reservoir greatly improved the 2020 proposed water management plan submitted by LCRA to TCEQ (Texas Commission on Environmental Quality) and provides greater assurance that downstream users and interruptible customers will have water in drought years," said DU Conservation Outreach Biologist Kirby Brown. "Stakeholders were encouraged by the improvements from the 2015 water management plan fashioned during the drought of 2011-2015 and much of that comes from the addition of the new reservoir into the system."

The reservoir already contained 15 feet of water at the time of the dedication, and it will be on-line for this year's growing season for rice farmers.