Austin
8:52 am
Fri March 2, 2012

AM Update: Rice Farmers Lose Water, Break for Texas Independence Day, City Council Decision Rundown

Rice Farmers Lose Water

As of midnight this morning, Texas rice farmers had no water for their crops.

Due to historically low lake levels (think a billion gallons below average), the Lower Colorado River Authority have ceased water supply to farmers in Matagorda, Wharton and Colorado counties.  According to StateImpact Texas, KUT News' reporting partnership with NPR, the move may not be that temporary: A growing Austin means more water needed for factories and power plants, and in the wake of a drought, there's simply not enough

That’s where a new plan comes in: take water flowing into the Lower Colorado below the Lakes and store it. “The drainage area of the Colorado river below Austin is sufficiently large that in good rainfall years, enough water flows into the Colorado below the dams for our needs,” says Haskell Simon, the Matagorda County rice farmer.

To store that water, the LCRA is making a plan to build “off-channel reservoirs:” small offshoots of the river that capture water during heavy rains.

But who’s going to pay for it? The LCRA says that’s still an open question. The rice farmers are looking to the Department of Agriculture for help.

Rice farmers will have to make do next year with no water, which they say they can handle thanks to smart planning. 

Break for Texas Independence Day

Today, March 2, marks the 176th anniversary of Texas' declaration of independence from Mexico, and there will be a number of occasions throughout the weekend to celebrate.

The annual Texas Independence Day Observance will take place today at noon in the Capitol Rotunda. The event, sponsored by Senator Kirk Watson, will feature live music, cultural dances and a live reading of William Barrett TravisAlamo speech “Victory or Death.”

On Saturday, March 3, the festivities continue with the Celebrate Texas Independence Day 5K Run. The 3-mile event will take runners from the South end of Congress Avenue Bridge up to the State Capitol and back down again. Online registration is still open, but participants will be able to register the day of the race. Participants will receive a commemorative Texas tee.

Sunday at 2 p.m., the Annual Remembrance Ceremony at the “Heroes of the Alamo” monument will take place on the Capitol grounds.

Monday wraps up the celebration with the Lone Star Classic Golf Tournament.

Highlights from a Late Night City Council Meeting

Last night's Austin City Council meeting dragged into the wee hours of the morning, with KUT News’ Nathan Bernier reporting until the meeting’s 2 a.m. adjournment.

Among the highlights were a vote against an interim rate increase for Austin Energy customers, and a vote for keeping Hosteling International at their current location. Evening and weekend service on Capital Metro’s Red Line service was approved, and the bag ban was also passed.