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Texas Water Trade announces milestone water purchase to protect Matagorda Bay

For immediate release: February 14, 2022

AUSTIN, Texas – Texas Water Trade today announced a milestone three-year agreement to purchase firm water to support Matagorda Bay, a rich coastal ecosystem on the Gulf of Mexico fed by the Texas Colorado River.

The agreement with the Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA) will enable Texas Water Trade to buy 200-acre feet of water – enough water to cover 200 acres of land one-foot deep – each of the next three years for delivery to wetlands fringing Matagorda Bay. Firm water is reliably available even in years when the river and storage reservoirs operated by LCRA experience lower-than average rainfall—the times when the environment needs freshwater the most.

“We are thrilled to have cooperated with the LCRA to execute the first-ever purchase of firm water on the Texas Colorado to support the freshwater needs of the bay,” said Texas Water Trade CEO Sharlene Leurig. “This is an important step in our efforts to leverage new funding sources to support environmental water transactions that will benefit freshwater resources across Texas.”

Leurig credited The Nature Conservancy (TNC), which authorized the designation of its Clive Runnels Family Mad Island Marsh Preserve as the water delivery point, for its help in getting the contract finalized. 

“Environmental water transactions are one of the innovative conservation tools we use to enhance water for wildlife within our coastal streams, estuaries and bay systems,” said Kyle Garmany, The Nature Conservancy’s Texas water and agriculture director. “Together with partners like Texas Water Trade, we’re addressing water scarcity and securing the health and resilience of our state.”

Like all of Texas’ bays, Matagorda Bay relies on freshwater inflows from the river that feeds it—in this case, the Texas Colorado River. Matagorda Bay experienced unprecedented stress during the drought of 2009-2014. Ongoing population growth has the potential to make future droughts even more stressful for this important coastal ecosystem.

Over the next three years, Texas Water Trade will track the benefits that the water deliveries provide to coastal wetlands and adjoining reaches of the bay, aiming to maximize environmental benefit—and hopefully setting the stage for future voluntary transactions to ensure the ongoing health of Matagorda Bay. 

Today’s announcement is among a handful of environmental water transactions Texas Water Trade has enabled in recent months using its newly created Texas Flows Fund, which exclusively supports environmental flows projects. Last summer, it awarded Texas Flows Fund grants to the Galveston Bay Foundation and TNC to finance water transactions that will enhance migratory bird habitats in Galveston and Matagorda Bays. 

Those transactions and Texas Water Trade’s purchase of firm water from LCRA were made possible with grants from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and The Meadows Foundation.

Contact: Peyton Fleming, Texas Water Trade
Phone: 857-361-2884 cell

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