Managing the Highland Lakes Through Drought

LCRA encourages everyone in the lower Colorado River basin to incorporate additional water conservation efforts into their daily lives as the region’s dry conditions and triple-digit heat continues.

LCRA in Stage 2 of its drought response

LCRA entered Stage 2 of its Drought Contingency Plan for Firm Water Customers  Aug. 12, when the amount of water in lakes Buchanan and Travis, the two water supply reservoirs in the Highland Lakes, fell below 900,000 acre-feet, or about 46% of capacity. Read the Aug. 14, 2023, news release. In Stage 2, LCRA is requesting 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 when and how to cut back water use. LCRA entered Stage 1 of the DCP in July 2022 and asked firm customers to voluntarily reduce water use by 5%. Read the July 24, 2023, news release.

Before entering Stage 1 of the DCP and under its state-approved Water Management Plan, LCRA cut off interruptible stored water from the Highland Lakes for most agricultural customers in Colorado, Wharton and Matagorda counties for the second growing season in 2022. In March 2023, LCRA determined no stored water from the lakes would be available in 2023 for most agricultural customers. Read the March 2, 2023, news release and 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)
October inflows totaled 70,210 acre-feet, which is about 55% of the October historical average and about 145% of the October 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.