LCRA: Frequently asked questions

Do you have a question about LCRA or its operations? We may have the answer for you in these frequently asked questions. If you can’t find what you need here, please submit your question to Ask LCRA. For questions about LCRA Park reservations, please visit Reserve America or call 855-392-7638. For other park information, please call our parks hotline at 512-473-3366.

LCRA

What is LCRA?

The Highland Lakes

What are the Highland Lakes?
How much water is in the lakes?
Who owns the water in the lakes?
Where can I find information about historical lake elevations for the Highland Lakes?
Who owns the land around the lakes?
What do I need to do to build a dock on my waterfront property?
When is the next lake lowering?
Who has jurisdiction over recreational activities on Lake Austin or Lady Bird Lake?
Will LCRA remove debris from along the lakeshore or river channel?
Does LCRA allow hunting on the lakes or in the riverbed?
Who will fix or replace a lost or damaged no-wake buoy along my shoreline?
A channel marker or hazard buoy in one of the Highland Lakes is damaged or missing. How can I get that fixed?
Does LCRA maintain any of the Highland Lakes at a constant level?

Environmental

What rules apply to on-site sewage facilities (septic systems) near the Highland Lakes?
I am considering buying land along the Highland Lakes. How can I find information on an existing system?
What is the process involved in obtaining a permit?
May I spray pesticides on my property near a lake or river?
Are the Highland Lakes safe for swimming?
Is it safe to swim in the Highland Lakes or its creeks and tributaries after a heavy rain?
Is Naegleria fowleri in any of the Highland Lakes?

LCRA Parks

Where are LCRA parks? What amenities do they offer?
How do I make reservations at an LCRA park?
Do you offer an annual park pass?
Are campfires or grills with charcoal allowed at LCRA parks?
Are animals allowed at LCRA parks?
How do I schedule a group or special event?
Is LCRA interested in hearing proposals for new business opportunities in LCRA parks?
What rules are in place at LCRA parks or on LCRA water?

Employment and doing business with LCRA

How can I find out about and apply for jobs at LCRA?
What type of benefits does LCRA offer?
How long does the application process take?
How can I check on the status my application?
My company is interested in working with LCRA. How can I learn about business opportunities?
How do I make an open records request to LCRA?

Community Service

Does LCRA offer grants to community development programs?
Does LCRA allow school field trips to the Redbud Center?
Do you offer tours of LCRA dams?

Electricity

Can I buy electricity from LCRA for my home or office?
Where does LCRA get the power it sells to co-ops and cities in Central Texas?
How can I get information about a particular transmission project?

Water supply and lake levels

Who can help me with questions about my water bill?
Where does LCRA get the power it sells to co-ops and cities in Central Texas?
What are the current lake levels along the Highland Lakes?
Who uses water from the lakes?
Can anyone take water from the lakes?
Do I need a permit or contract to pump water from the Colorado River or Highland Lakes for my waterfront house or ranch?
Does LCRA serve my neighborhood?

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LCRA

What is LCRA?
The Texas Legislature created the Lower Colorado River Authority in 1934. LCRA provides public power, manages the lower Colorado River, builds and operates transmission lines across the state, and more.

LCRA’s mission is to enhance the quality of life for the Texans we serve through water stewardship, energy and community service. For more on LCRA, see the About section of lcra.org.

Highland Lakes

What are the Highland Lakes?
The Highland Lakes are a chain of lakes on the Colorado River northwest of Austin. LCRA built the lakes from 1935 to 1951 to provide a reliable water supply for the basin, protect Austin and downstream communities from the worst effects of Hill Country floods, and generate hydroelectric power. The two largest reservoirs, lakes Buchanan and Travis, store and supply water to meet household, industrial, agricultural and environmental needs throughout the basin. Lake Travis also is designed to temporarily hold floodwaters in its flood pool. The four smaller lakes – Inks, LBJ, Marble Falls and Austin – are known as “pass-through lakes” and have no extra capacity to hold floodwaters.

How much water is in the lakes?
Lake Travis and Buchanan hold nearly 2.01 million acre-feet of water when they are full. (An acre-foot equals about 326,000 gallons.) But lakes Travis and Buchanan usually are not full. The amount of water stored in them can drop significantly during droughts and rise dramatically in a matter of hours or days during a flood. This is the way they were designed to operate.

Who owns the water in the lakes?
The State of Texas owns the water, and LCRA manages the water for the people of Texas. The state issues water rights that allow the holder to use a specific amount of water each year from the river and lakes. LCRA holds the largest block of water rights in the Colorado River basin.

Where can I find information about historical lake elevations for the Highland Lakes?
The historical lake levels webpage includes historical data for each of the lakes. Each spreadsheet contains minimum, maximum and average elevations for each month since LCRA began operating the lake.

Who owns the land around the lakes?
Most of the shoreline around the Highland Lakes is privately owned. LCRA owns 26 parks and recreation areas that occupy almost 10,000 acres around the Highland Lakes.

What do I need to do to build a dock on my waterfront property?
Owning lakefront property does not automatically entitle you to build a dock or other floating structures. You need to verify you own the land that is submerged under the water by checking property deeds filed with the county tax office. If the submerged land is owned by someone else, you'll need the landowner's permission to construct a dock. Docks are required to meet LCRA's Safety Standards for Residential Docks on the Highland Lakes.

When is the next lake lowering?
LCRA occasionally lowers one or more of the pass-through lakes (lakes Inks, LBJ, Marble Falls and Austin) to combat nuisance aquatic vegetation and allow lakeside property owners an opportunity to do needed repairs on docks, retaining walls and other structures.
Decisions about the next year’s lowerings are made in the fall, and the lowerings typically occur in the January-February time frame.
To find out when a lake lowering is scheduled, email AskLcra@lcra.org, or check the news page of LCRA.org, or LCRA’s Facebook or Twitter social media sites.

Who has jurisdiction over recreational activities on Lake Austin or Lady Bird Lake?
The City of Austin has jurisdiction over these lakes and sets any regulations or restrictions affecting recreation there. You can e-mail the Austin Parks and Recreation Department or call the department at 512-974-6700 for more information.

Will LCRA remove debris from along the lakeshore or river channel?
The majority of the land along the shoreline and beneath the lake surface is privately owned. LCRA does not remove debris from private property. Removal of trash and debris from the shoreline is up to the property owner or property association.

LCRA typically only addresses debris issues if the debris is on LCRA property. If it is in the main river channel, LCRA will mark or remove it if it poses a hazard to navigation. To report navigational hazards in the Highland Lakes, email AskLCRA@lcra.org.

Does LCRA allow hunting on the lakes or in the riverbed?
Hunting is not allowed on LCRA lands or water, including the Highland Lakes. Texas Parks and Wildlife Department game wardens enforce state hunting regulations in areas downstream of Lake Travis and upstream from Lake Buchanan. The City of Austin also enforces hunting regulations on Lake Austin.

Who will fix or replace a lost or damaged no-wake buoy along my shoreline?
LCRA will investigate and replace damaged or missing buoys or channel markers as needed. To report a missing or malfunctioning buoy, call Chris Hernandez in LCRA Water Surface Management at 512-578-4785.

A channel marker or hazard buoy in one of the Highland Lakes is damaged or missing. How can I get that fixed?
LCRA will investigate and replace damaged or missing buoys or channel markers as needed. To report a missing or malfunctioning buoy, call Chris Hernandez in LCRA Water Surface Management at 512-578-4785.

I have noticed a boating hazard in one of the Highland Lakes. How do I report that?
To report navigational hazards in the Highland Lakes, email AskLCRA@lcra.org. The LCRA Water Surface Management team will investigate and mark or remove the hazard if it interferes with navigation.

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Environmental

What rules apply to on-site sewage facilities (septic systems) near the Highland Lakes?
Requirements for septic tanks near the Highland Lakes are posted on LCRA’s On-Site Sewage Facilities (OSSF) webpage. The page includes information on the steps to get a permit, LCRA’s sewage facility rules and answers to frequently asked questions.

For more information, email ossf@lcra.org or call 512-578-3216. Choose option 1 for general questions about septic histories and inspections.

I am considering buying land along the Highland Lakes. How can I find information on an existing system?
You can obtain information on an existing system by emailing ossf@lcra.org or calling the OSSF office at 512-578-3216.

What is the process involved in obtaining a permit?
A licensed site evaluator must evaluate the property to determine the type and size of on-site sewage facility that is needed. You can find information on locating a site evaluator and the process of obtaining a permit by visiting ossf@lcra.org.

May I spray pesticides on my property near a lake or river?
An over-the-counter insecticide may be fine to use around the lake, but it should be labeled as safe for use near water and should be used exactly as instructed on the product label. It is important you do not apply any insecticide directly to the water surface. As a general rule, pesticides that advertise season-long control can persist in the soil for up to three months. The longer the active ingredient lasts, the greater the chance it enters the water when it rains.

Are the Highland Lakes safe for swimming?
Swimming in any lake carries risks. In the Highland Lakes, swimmers swim at their own risk. There are no lifeguards on duty, and the depth of the lake can change quickly. . In addition, swimmers should avoid being near the dams, and should stay alert to sudden and unannounced water releases from any of the dams along the Highland Lakes. For additional tips, see the Safe Swimming page of lcra.org.

Is it safe to swim in the Highland Lakes or its creeks and tributaries after a heavy rain?
Bacteria levels are elevated after heavy rains, and swimmers should use their best judgment in deciding whether to enter the lakes under those conditions. If the water is turbid (brown) and floating debris is present, levels of bacteria are most likely elevated. . It generally takes about a week after a rain for bacteria to return to more normal levels.

The lakes are not chlorinated swimming pools, and there is always at least some risk swimmers will come into contact with bacteria.

For information about water quality in the Highland Lakes and the basin’s streams, go to the LCRA’s Water Quality Index.

Is Naegleria fowleri in any of the Highland Lakes?
Naegleria fowleri is an amoeba that can be found in any natural body of water such as a lake, river or creek. It can be found in warm, stagnant areas. It is thought to be associated with sediment and other materials in the lake or river bottom, and gets mixed into the water when the lake or riverbed is disturbed by swimmers and other causes.

Very specific conditions must be in place for someone to become infected with Primary Amoebic Meningoencephalitis (PAM). Cases of PAM are extremely rare. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has additional information, including ways to reduce the likelihood of contracting PAM.

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LCRA Parks

Where are LCRA parks? What amenities do they offer?
LCRA owns nearly 11,000 acres of parkland along the Colorado River from the Hill Country to the Gulf Coast. The parks offer a wide variety of activities and opportunities for fun, ranging from kayaking and hiking to bird watching and exploring canyons and caves. Some parks offer cabins, overnight tent camping accommodations, RV campsites, pavilions or dining halls.

Detailed information about LCRA parks is available at lcra.org/parks or the LCRA Parks Information Line at 512-473-3366.

How do I make reservations at an LCRA park?
You can view campsites and make reservations online at lcraparks.reserveamerica.com or by calling 855-392-7638. The toll-free number is available from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and is closed New Year’s Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.

Online reservations may be made for a nonrefundable $6 fee per campsite. There is a $7.50 nonrefundable service charge per campsite for online and/or call center cancellations, transfers and changes.

Do you offer an annual park pass?
Yes. An LCRA Parks Pass is available for $150 for adults, $100 for seniors or people who are disabled, or $240 for equestrian and horse. For more information or to purchase a pass, visit lcraparks.reserveamerica.com or call 855-392-7638.

Are campfires or grills with charcoal allowed at LCRA parks?
Ground fires and charcoal grilling are allowed at many LCRA parks. Check individual park webpages for rules at specific parks.

LCRA honors burn bans issued by counties in which LCRA parks are located. Burn ban warnings at LCRA parks are posted on individual park webpages and the park alerts page.

Campfires are allowed only in established fire rings or in contained camp stoves, unless a county burn ban is in effect.

Visitors may bring their own grills. Raised fire pits are allowed as long as no wood is being used.

Are animals allowed at LCRA parks?

LCRA welcomes visitors to bring their dogs to LCRA parks, as long as the animals remain on leashes in the camping and picnic areas. In off-leash areas, pets must be kept under their owners' immediate control.

Pet rules in LCRA cabins vary by park. Black Rock Park and Lake Bastrop South Shore Park have dog-friendly cabins available. Oak Thicket Park and Canyon of the Eagles allow dogs at all of their lodges and cabins.

Equestrian users may enjoy multi-use trails at Grelle Recreation Area, Matagorda Bay Nature Park, McKinney Roughs Nature Park and Muleshoe Bend Recreation Area

How do I schedule a group or special event?

LCRA parks offer rental halls and pavilions for group activities at Black Rock Park, Lake Bastrop North Shore Park, Lake Bastrop South Shore Park, Matagorda Bay Nature Park and McKinney Roughs Nature Park. You can view rental information and make reservations online at lcraparks.reserveamerica.com or by calling 855-392-7638.

Any organized group activity involving 20 or more individuals on LCRA land requires prior written permission. Please submit group requests to parks@lcra.org with a brief description of the event, including the park name, date/times of event, number of attendees and host contact information. 

Is LCRA interested in hearing proposals for new business opportunities in LCRA parks?
LCRA is always interested in creating new alliances with concessionaires and exploring development opportunities to provide visitors with diverse and unique experiences at LCRA parks.

What rules are in place at LCRA parks or on LCRA water?
The LCRA Land and Water Use Regulations apply to all water under the jurisdiction of LCRA and to all land owned or leased by LCRA. For more information, call the LCRA Parks Information Line at 512-473-3366.

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Employment and doing business with LCRA

How can I find out about and apply for jobs at LCRA?
LCRA posts job openings at lcra.org/jobs. Applications should be submitted through that portal.

What type of benefits does LCRA offer?
LCRA offers a competitive benefits program that includes comprehensive health, dental, vision and legal insurance plans. We also provide life insurance, accidental death and dismemberment insurance, flexible health care and dependent care spending accounts, short-term and long-term disability protection, and an employer-matched 401(k) plan. In addition, we have an educational assistance and tuition reimbursement program and provide paid leave (vacation, sick, holiday, etc.).

How long does the application process take?
The process will vary by position, but can take several weeks.

How can I check on the status my application?
Go to the candidate portal, then log in as a returning candidate to check the status of your application.

My company is interested in working with LCRA. How can I learn about business opportunities?
This webpage lists business opportunities with LCRA. You may subscribe to an RSS feed to receive notices when new business opportunities are posted.

How do I make an open records request to LCRA?
Send open records requests to openrecords@lcra.org. More information about the open records process is available here.

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Community Service

Does LCRA offer grants to community development programs?
LCRA and our wholesale electric customers provide grants of up to $50,000 for community projects through our Community Development Partnership Program. The program helps local governments and nonprofit organizations within LCRA’s service area fund capital improvement projects to benefit the public. LCRA awards the grants twice a year, in the spring and fall. Here are FAQs about the grant program.

Does LCRA allow school field trips to the Redbud Center?
Educational field trips to the Redbud Center in Austin are hosted by the Colorado River Alliance. You can learn more about the program or register for a field trip here.

Do you offer tours of LCRA dams?
LCRA does not offer public tours of any of its dams.

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Electricity

Can I buy electricity from LCRA for my home or office?
Not directly. LCRA sells power to electric cooperatives and city-owned utilities.

Where does LCRA get the power it sells to co-ops and cities in Central Texas?
LCRA's power generation portfolio includes a traditional natural gas-fired plant (Sim Gideon at Bastrop), combined-cycle gas-fired plants (Lost Pines 1 Power Project at Bastrop and Thomas C. Ferguson at Marble Falls), a gas-fired "peaking" facility (Winchester Power Park in Fayette County) and a coal-fired power plant (Fayette Power Project in Fayette County). LCRA also purchases power from Sandy Creek Energy Center near Waco. LCRA generates hydroelectric power at its Highland Lakes dams – Buchanan, Inks, Wirtz, Starcke, Mansfield and Tom Miller. More information about LCRA’s portfolio is available here.

How can I get information about a particular transmission project?
Check the LCRA Transmission Services Corporation page for information about major projects. If you need additional information about a project, call 800-776-5272, ext. 6270, or contact us through Ask LCRA.

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Water supply and lake levels

Who can help me with questions about my water bill?
Contact your local water utility for questions about your water bill. LCRA is a wholesale water provider and does not set the rates local providers charge their retail customers.

How can I find information about when LCRA is using hydroelectric generation at the dams?
Information about the previous day’s releases is available in the River Operations Report. The schedule for today’s hydroelectric generation is competitive electric market information and is not available to the public.

What are the current lake levels along the Highland Lakes?
Near real-time information on lake levels, streamflow and rain totals is available at LCRA’s Hydromet site.

Who uses water from the lakes?
Water from the Highland Lakes is released for cities, industries, power plants, agriculture and the environment.

Can anyone take water from the lakes?
No. It's against the law to take water from the lakes without a water right permit or a contract with LCRA. The use of water from the lakes is highly regulated because the stored water in the lakes has been permitted to LCRA by the state.

Do I need a permit or contract to pump water from the Colorado River or Highland Lakes for my waterfront house or ranch?
If your property is on the Highland Lakes, you will need a Domestic Use water contract. If you live along the Colorado River, check with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to see if you need a permit to draw water from the river. You may still need a contract from LCRA if your water needs need to be met through releases from the Highland Lakes. An application for a firm water contract is available here.

Does LCRA serve my neighborhood?
LCRA is a wholesale water provider and does not provide retail service. Check with your local water provider to see if it purchases water from LCRA.


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