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Rivers and Lakes
LakeLevelMo. Avg
Buchanan986.341010.46
Inks887.19887.48
LBJ824.65824.07
Marble Falls736.42736.08
Travis623.19664.63
Austin492.09492.18
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How full are the lakes?
34%
Lakes Travis and Buchanan are our region’s water supply reservoirs and currently hold about 686,055 acre-feet of water.
 
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Highland Lakes combined storage gets a mid-month bump

Inflows remain low in September as drought continues

 

View the October 2014 drought update

View the October 2014
drought update

A series of mid-September rainstorms added about 20,000 acre-feet to the combined storage of lakes Buchanan and Travis, the region's water reservoirs. Lake Travis rose more than 2 feet, while Lake Buchanan rose a little more than half an inch.

The increase was welcome but relatively small, and it was not enough to make much difference in the severe drought gripping the region around the Highland Lakes.

Despite the rains, inflows - the amount of water flowing into the Highland Lakes from rivers and streams - measured in September at four locations upstream of the lakes remained very low. September inflows were just 12,683 acre-feet, or 12.5 percent of the average for September.

Inflows have been at or near historic lows for an extended period of time during this drought:

  • When combined, September inflows from 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014 are only slightly more than half of the historical September average of 101,418 acre-feet.
  • January through September 2014 inflows were about 165,000 acre-feet - the fourth lowest on record for that nine-month period.
  • Six of the 10 lowest annual inflows in history have occurred since 2006.

    • The lowest annual inflows in history occurred in 2011, with only 127,802 acre-feet, about 10 percent of the annual average.
    • The second lowest inflows in history were 215,138 acre-feet in 2013.
    • The third lowest inflows in history were 284,462 acre-feet in 2008.
    • The fourth lowest inflows in history were 285,229 acre-feet in 2006.
    • The sixth lowest inflows in history were 393,163 acre-feet in 2012.
    • The ninth lowest inflows in history were 499,732 acre-feet in 2009.

 

Combined storage in lakes Buchanan and Travis dropped from 709,070 acre-feet on Sept. 1 to 694,066 acre-feet on Oct. 9. Lakes Buchanan and Travis are about 34 percent of capacity.

Should combined storage drop below 600,000 acre-feet, or 30 percent of capacity, the LCRA Board of Directors will issue a Drought Worse Than the Drought of Record declaration. Following a state-approved plan, LCRA then would require cities, industries and other firm customers to reduce their water use by 20 percent from a baseline year, and would cut off all Highland Lakes water to interruptible customers.

Because of the mid-month rain and decrease in demand and evaporation this time of year, LCRA projects the earliest combined storage could drop below 600,000 acre-feet is next spring.

Though lake levels are low, the Highland Lakes are doing exactly what they were designed to do - capturing water when it rains to ensure the region has a reliable water supply during droughts such as this one.

Lakes Travis and Buchanan provide drinking water to more than a million people, and water to industries, businesses and the environment in the lower Colorado River basin.

LCRA has been working aggressively to conserve water and expand the water supply during the drought. With permission from the state, LCRA has cut off Highland Lakes water to most interruptible agricultural customers for three years in a row. LCRA also is requiring its firm customers to limit lawn and landscape watering to once a week in the communities they serve.

In September, the LCRA Board authorized construction of the Lane City Reservoir Project in Wharton County. The reservoir is expected to be complete in 2017. The off-channel reservoir will add about 90,000 acre-feet of firm supply.

LCRA also is drilling groundwater wells on its property in Bastrop County.

Watch LCRA videos on the drought

 How Severe is the Drought?

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