Highland Lakes and Dams

LCRA operates six dams on the lower Colorado River in Central Texas: Buchanan, Inks, Wirtz, Starcke, Mansfield and Tom Miller. These dams form the six Highland Lakes: Buchanan, Inks, LBJ, Marble Falls, Travis and Austin. Two of the Highland Lakes – Buchanan and Travis – are the region’s water supply reservoirs to serve more than 1 million people as well as businesses, industries, the environment and agriculture in the lower Colorado River basin.

Each of the dams was built to help manage floods and generate hydroelectric power. The dams in the Highland Lakes chain have hydroelectric generation stations that contribute to the Central Texas energy supply. Together, the hydroelectric plants at the dams can provide more than 295 megawatts of power.

Buchanan Dam and Lake Buchanan

Year completed: 1938
Primary purpose: Water supply, hydroelectric power
Location: Burnet and Llano counties
Owner: LCRA

Buchanan Dam and Lake Buchanan were the first completed in the Highland Lakes chain. They are named for U.S. Rep. J.P. Buchanan, who helped secure federal funds to complete the project after the original builder declared bankruptcy.

Read a fact sheet about the management of Lake Buchanan and the $50 million upgrade project underway at the dam.


Inks Dam and Inks Lake

Year completed: 1938
Primary purpose: Hydroelectric power
Location: Llano and Burnet counties
Owner: LCRA

Inks Dam has no floodgates, and the power plant is the smallest in the Highland Lakes chain. Inks Dam works in tandem with Buchanan Dam. A small amount of water can be released through hydroelectric generation, but the bulk of floodwaters pass over an uncontrolled spillway.

The lake and dam are named for Roy B. Inks, one of the original members on the LCRA Board of Directors.

Read more about Inks Dam and Inks Lake

Inks Dam

Dimensions

96.5 feet high, 1,547.5 feet long

Generating capacity

13.8 megawatts

Top of dam

922 feet msl

Floodgates

None

Spillway elevation

888.3 feet msl

Discharge capacity

    3,400 cubic feet per second (cfs):
  • 1 turbine at 3,400 cfs

Original name

Arnold Dam

Inks Lake

Lake area

777 acres

Elevation when full

888 feet msl

Volume when full

13,668 acre-feet

Historic high

902.8 feet msl on July 25, 1938

Historic low

877.1 feet msl on Dec. 6, 1983

Target operating range

886.9 to 887.7 feet msl

100-year flood level at dam

901.7 feet msl

Dimensions

4.2 miles long, 3,000 feet at widest point


Wirtz Dam and Lake LBJ

Year completed: 1951
Primary purpose: Hydroelectric power, cooling reservoir for Thomas C. Ferguson Power Plant
Location: Burnet and Llano counties
Owner: LCRA

Wirtz Dam was built in tandem with Starcke Dam downstream. The dam was named in 1952 for Alvin J. Wirtz who was instrumental in LCRA's creation and served as its first general counsel. The lake was named in 1965 for another advocate of LCRA, President Lyndon B. Johnson.


Starcke Dam and Lake Marble Falls

Year completed: 1951
Primary purpose: Hydroelectric power
Location: Burnet County
Owner: LCRA

Starcke Dam is the smallest in the Highland Lakes chain, and the last one completed. The dam was renamed in 1962 for Max Starcke, LCRA's second general manager, who served from 1940 to 1955.

Read more about Starcke Dam and Lake Marble Falls

Starcke Dam

Dimensions

98.8 feet high, 859.5 feet long

Generating capacity

41.4 megawatts

Top of dam

738 feet msl

Floodgates

10

Discharge capacity

    109,200 cubic feet per second (cfs):
  • 10 floodgates at 10,100 cfs each
  • 2 turbines at 4,100 cfs each

Original name

Marble Falls Dam

Lake Marble Falls

Lake area

591 acres

Elevation when full

737 feet msl

Volume when full

7,186 acre-feet

Historic high

756.3 feet msl on Sept. 11, 1952

Historic low

715 feet msl on Oct. 4, 1983

Target operating range

736.2 to 737 feet msl

100-year flood level at dam

754.3 feet msl

Dimensions

5.75 miles long and 1,080 feet at widest point


Mansfield Dam and Lake Travis

Year completed: 1942
Primary purpose: Flood management, water supply storage, hydroelectric power
Location: Travis and Burnet counties
Owner: LCRA

LCRA and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation built Mansfield dam from 1937 to 1942. The dam was built across a deep canyon at Marshall Ford, a long-time river crossing and settlement. After a severe flood in July 1938, LCRA raised the height of the dam to add storage capacity for floodwaters.

Lake Travis is the only lake in the Highland Lakes chain specifically designed to hold back floodwaters. Lake Travis is considered full for water supply purposes at 681 feet msl. At that level, the lake contains 1.1 million acre-feet of water. Lake Travis is designed to hold an additional 787,000 acre-feet of floodwaters in what is referred to as the flood pool.

LCRA is engaged in a multi-year, multi-million dollar renovation project to rehab and restore the dam’s floodgates to their original condition. Read the floodgate renovation project fact sheet.


Tom Miller Dam and Lake Austin

Year completed: 1940
Primary purpose: Hydroelectric power, water supply
Location: Travis County
Owner: City of Austin

LCRA built Tom Miller Dam on property leased from the City of Austin. Named for an Austin mayor, the dam was built atop the remains of two earlier structures, both called Austin Dam. The first was built from 1890 to 1893, and the other from 1912 to 1915. Massive floods destroyed the first dam and heavily damaged the second.

LCRA is engaged in a $9.9 million project to replace the dam’s original floodgates to help ensure it continues to operate reliably and safely for generations to come.




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