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2009-05-14 digital edition

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2009-05-14 / General Stories

LCRA Decision Prompts Legal Claim by SAWS

A decision by the Lower Colorado River Authority to use updated projections for water needs for people and industry in its basin has resulted in the threat of legal action by the San Antonio Water System (SAWS).

The SAWS Board of Trustees on May 5, 2009, claimed that LCRA breached its contract with SAWS. The claim follows LCRA's decision to update projections for water needs that are 14-25 percent more than previously projected. SAWS claims that LCRA had no unilateral right to increase projections for population and future water needs. The issue is critical because LCRA must show that there is enough water to meet needs in its basin before water can be offered to San Antonio.

"We looked at the data and saw that the growth curve for this region is steeper than projected a decade ago, when the LCRASAWS Water Project began," said LCRA General Manager Thomas G. Mason.

The resolution approved by the SAWS Board of Trustees states that LCRA is in breach of its contract with SAWS, directs staff to make no more payments to LCRA for study costs, and directs staff to pursue all avenues for contractual relief against LCRA.

A water-sharing project was conceived nearly a decade ago as a way for the lower Colorado River basin and the San Antonio region to jointly conserve and develop water in the Colorado River basin.

Recently, preliminary study findings indicated that the project - after new growth projections are met - does not meet all of the legislative requirements, and that no water is available for San Antonio. The study of the project has cost about $35 million.

LCRA has used science and engineering to determine if a specific water-sharing project was viable and could meet the requirements set by the Texas Legislature. The requirements were incorporated into the contract with SAWS. As originally envisioned, the project cannot meet all of those requirements. LCRA is following the contract and relying on facts and the most up-to-date information about future water needs.

"LCRA is not in breach of its contract and will vigorously defend itself by demonstrating that it has met every obligation under its contract with SAWS," Mason said.

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