Thursday, April 24, 2014

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Southeast Texas rice farmers brace for another dry year

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TWC News: Southeast Texas rice farmers brace for another dry year
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For generations, rice farms in Southeast Texas have survived on water released from lakes Travis and Buchanan, but drought prompted officials to keep the water in the lakes last year and it may happen this year.

The Lower Colorado River Authority decided to retain that water because levels at the lakes were so low.

Rice farmers say they can’t take another dry year without sustaining serious damage.

Three new water reservoirs which would benefit the farmers could be built in the southeast part of the state, but the LCRA still has to sign off on that decision which would allow for rain water and river runoff to be used.

"The farmers can probably make it. It's the support industries that are going to really, really suffer. We can probably hang on for another year," rice farmer Danny Gertson said.

The farming industry has had to adapt to using less water before. The rice industry alone uses 30 percent less water than it did in the 1980s.

Gertson says new reservoirs would help, but they are a long-term solution and would not provide much short-term relief.

The LCRA board meets on Tuesday to discuss those reservoirs, which would be dependent on funding from the state. ClientIP:, UserAgent: CCBot/2.0 ( Profile: TWCSAMLSP