Farmers fight to get river flowing to save businesses

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by KHOU.com staff

khou.com

Posted on July 26, 2013 at 11:25 PM

Updated Friday, Jul 26 at 11:40 PM

MATAGORDA COUNTY, Texas --Rice farmers in Matagorda County said they will no longer be able to farm much rice if they don’t get any water within the next two years.

An estimated 200 farmers just southeast of Houston face the same fate.

A canal that was once filled with water is now bone dry. Farmers said it’s the worst drought they’ve ever seen.

The problem began two years ago when the Lower Colorado River Authority began holding water in lakes near Austin.

Harvey Savage said it was for all the wrong reasons.

“The dams were originally built to control the flooding on the river, but since then a lot of people have moved in and built houses around the lakes and now they want to hold the water there so they can ski,” Savage said. “It makes me feel cheated right now.”

The LCRA said it must hold the water so the river can generate electricity and provide drinking water for several cities.

This does not leave much for farmers downstream. Some of them are digging wells, but it’s only enough to water a fraction of their fields.

Rice growers are trying to convince the River Authority to release more water before they are forced to go out of business.

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