LCRA operates six dams on the lower Colorado River in Central Texas: Buchanan, Inks, Wirtz, Starcke, Mansfield and Tom Miller. See interactive map.
These dams form the six Highland Lakes — Buchanan, Inks, LBJ, Marble Falls, Travis and Austin. The lakes and nearby parks and recreation areas are popular for water sports and leisure activities.
While all the dams were built to help handle floods, Mansfield Dam, which forms Lake Travis, is the only one designed to hold back floodwaters. The other dams pass floodwaters downstream to Lake Travis, where the water is stored in a flood pool until LCRA can safely release it downstream.
Between 1843 and 1938, the river basin suffered 15 major floods, causing millions of dollars in damage. Since their completion in 1941, Mansfield Dam and the Lake Travis flood pool have reduced the force of major and minor floods, protecting downstream residents. Find out how LCRA helps manage floods.
Lakes Travis and Buchanan also serve as reservoirs, storing water for communities, industry and aquatic life along the river.
The lakes have a long history of supplying irrigation water for the agricultural industry near the Gulf Coast. The combined storage capacity of the two lakes — about 655 billion gallons — keeps river-basin residents from running out of water even during severe droughts. To find out more, see Managing Water Supply.
Each dam has a hydroelectric generation station that contributes "green" power to the Central Texas energy supply. Together, the hydroelectric plants provide more than 291 megawatts of capacity.
Once the major source of power for LCRA's electric service area, hydroelectricity's primary use now is to help meet power demand "peaks" and to keep power flowing during emergencies. To find out more, see Hydroelectric Dams.