Highland Lakes full for a year and counting
Following a years-long historic drought, lakes Travis and Buchanan have refilled and now have been near full for more than a year.
LCRA projections show levels in Lake Travis and Lake Buchanan are expected to remain above-average through at least mid-summer, if weather conditions remain normal or wet. Lake levels typically fall by late summer as customers, including cities, industries and agriculture, use more water and evaporation increases.
In April, pockets of heavy rain fell in the Highland Lakes watershed during a mid-month storm and resulted in runoff into the tributaries that feed the Highland Lakes. Inflows into the Highland Lakes in April were about 89 percent of the April historical average and totaled 92,725 acre-feet. Inflows are the amount of water flowing into the lakes estimated from measurements at four gauges upstream. (An acre-foot is 325,851 gallons.)
The Highland Lakes were created to manage floods and capture water when it rains to ensure the region has a reliable water supply during dry times. Lakes Travis and Buchanan provide water for more than a million people and to industries, businesses, the environment and agriculture in the lower Colorado River basin.
LCRA manages lakes Travis and Buchanan under the 2015 Water Management Plan. Under the plan, up to 202,000 acre-feet of interruptible stored water is available for agriculture in the Gulf Coast, Lakeside and Pierce Ranch irrigation operations during the first half of the growing season in 2017, from mid-March to late summer. This water is used only as needed; the actual amount used depends on weather and farm conditions. Water availability for the second half of the growing season, from late summer to mid-October, will be determined after July 1.