How the Highland Lakes work



The Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA) provides a reliable water supply to more than 1 million residents in Central Texas. LCRA manages the water supply for the lower Colorado River basin. with a series of six d​​ams: Buchanan, Inks, Wirtz, Starcke, Mansfield and Tom Miller. The dams were built to manage floods and protect downstream residents.

These dams form the Highland Lakes — Buchanan, Inks, LBJ, Marble Falls, Travis and Austin. Although record-break​ing hot and dry weather of the past several years has resulted in historic low amounts of water flowing into the lakes, the lower Colorado River basin has a higher risk of flooding than most regions of the United States. LCRA is prepared for both conditions — drought or flood.

Lakes Travis and Buchanan, the region’s water supply reservoirs, have a combined storage capacity of about 655 billion gallons. The lakes keep river basin residents from running out of water even during severe droughts. LCRA monitors lake levels and stream flows with the Hydromet, a system of more than 250 automated weather and river gauges spread throughout the basin. As rain falls, real-time data is transmitted to a central computer system that helps forecast lake levels and flood operations at the dams. Each dam also has a hydroelectric generation station that contributes "green" power to the Central Texas energy supply.