Managing the Highland Lakes Through Drought

The lower Colorado River basin is experiencing a severe drought that has caused storage in the region’s two primary water supply reservoirs, lakes Buchanan and Travis, to drop to levels well below average.

LCRA encourages everyone in the basin to incorporate water conservation efforts into their daily lives, and to be mindful that our lakes are stressed by the current drought. Conservation is important to help protect and extend our water supplies. Read more about ways to use water wisely.

LCRA limits outdoor watering to once a week

LCRA is requiring cities, businesses, industries and others that purchase water from LCRA to limit outdoor watering of ornamental landscaped areas to no more than once a week until the drought eases. The restriction also applies to lakeside property owners who have contracts with LCRA to draw water directly from the Highland Lakes. The maximum once-a-week watering schedule, which was adopted by the LCRA Board of Directors in February 2024, will be triggered anytime the combined storage of lakes Buchanan and Travis is below 900,000 acre-feet, or about 45% of capacity. The restriction will remain in effect until the combined storage increases to at least 1.1 million acre-feet. The new requirement is an amendment to LCRA’s Drought Contingency Plan for Firm Water Customers. Read the Feb. 21, 2024, news release.

LCRA cuts off water to most downstream interruptible agricultural customers for a second straight full year

On March 2, LCRA determined no water from the Highland Lakes would be available for most LCRA agricultural customers, in Colorado, Wharton and Matagorda counties in 2024. Read the news release.

LCRA in Stage 2 drought response

LCRA entered Stage 2 of its drought response in August 2023, when the amount of water in lakes Buchanan and Travis fell below 900,000 acre-feet. Read the Aug. 14, 2023, news release. In Stage 2, firm customers – mostly municipalities, water districts and industries – implement mandatory drought response measures with a target of reducing water use by 10%-20%. Each firm customer has its own drought contingency plan to determine how to cut back water use.

Read more about LCRA’s water supply operations.

Lake levels

How full are the lakes?

Lakes Buchanan and Travis are the two water supply reservoirs in the chain of Highland Lakes on the Colorado River northwest of Austin. They were designed to fluctuate, capturing water during rainy times and holding it for use when the weather turned drier. The lakes have provided a reliable water supply for Central Texas since Lake Travis was completed in the 1940s.

The last time lakes Buchanan and Travis were full was in July 2019.

Current conditions

River Operations Report
Daily report on routine water supply operations at the dams.

Inflows into lakes Buchanan and Travis (.pdf)
March inflows totaled 11,005 acre-feet, which is about 13% of the March historical average and about 24% of the March historical median.

Interactive map and reports on rainfall and more.

Lake levels
Current lake level information.

Basin streamflow summary
Current streamflow data in the basin.

Lake level projections

Lake Travis (.pdf)

Lake Buchanan (.pdf)

Combined storage of lakes Buchanan and Travis (.pdf)

Historical lake levels

Daily lake levels and combined storage (.pdf)

Lake Buchanan (.xls)

Inks Lake (.xls)

Lake LBJ (.xls)

Lake Marble Falls (.xls)

Lake Travis (.xls)

Lake Austin (.xls)


Water conservation tips and LCRA conservation programs.

Bob’s blog on Central Texas weather
Weather forecasts from LCRA’s chief meteorologist.

Water use restrictions
Links to LCRA customers’ watering schedules.
Drought conditions in Texas from NOAA and NIDIS.

Water data for Texas
Drought dashboard from the Texas Water Development Board.

Drought in Texas
Information from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.

Texas A&M Forest Service
Information on burn bans, forecasted fire danger and drought.