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HB 1437: no net loss municipal interbasin transfer through agricultural water conservation




Pandey, Stacy, author
Ramirez, Ana, author
McLeod, John, author
U.S. Committee on Irrigation and Drainage, publisher

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The HB 1437 Agriculture Water Conservation Program is an innovative way to meet rising municipal demands in Williamson County, Texas, conserve river water used for irrigation, and maintain agriculture productivity. The program provides grants to implement water conservation projects on farms and in LCRA irrigation divisions through a municipal conservation surcharge. In 1999, the Texas Legislature passed House Bill 1437 authorizing the Lower Colorado River Authority to transfer up to 25,000 acre-feet of water per year to Williamson County (through Brazos River Authority (BRA)) under certain conditions including 1) The transfer results in "no net loss" of water to the lower Colorado River basin, and 2) A conservation surcharge on the transferred water is collected from BRA customers to help pay for the conservation projects (currently 25%). Based on BRA water demands, a 7-year plan was developed through engineering studies and public meetings to conserve approximately 3,500 ac-ft/yr of agriculture water, representing a combination of conservation projects including precision leveling and automation of canal gates in irrigation divisions. The grant program, begun in 2006, has provided partial funding to precision level 6,275 acres of farm land. Farms that have participated in this program received a 30% cost share in addition to a 50% cost share from the EQIP program. To date, 4,830 acre-feet of water has been conserved from these grants. A water savings verification program is under development and will be implemented in 2008. Ongoing challenges include revised water demands, savings verification, and interaction with other water projects.


Presented at Urbanization of irrigated land and water transfers: a USCID water management conference on May 28-31, 2008 in Scottsdale, Arizona.

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