Water proposal could devastate Texas rice industry
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — About 170 farmers in a South Texas rice-producing region could lose their main source of water next year under an emergency drought measure approved by the Lower Colorado River Authority.
A last-minute compromise Wednesday allows more time for rain before the cutoff, as the river authority tries to preserve water during one of the worst droughts in Texas history.
But it’s still left downstream farmers in three counties wondering how they’ll keep their operations going.
If given approval by state regulators, the authority would not release water from Central Texas dams to coastal irrigation canals if the stored water in the reservoirs falls below 850,000 acre-feet on March 1. The current storage is 789,000 acre-feet. Farmers found some relief in a last-minute agreement to delay the cutoff from Jan. 1.