Buoys, Docks and Marinas
Guidance for placing buoys on the Highland Lakes
Residential docks must meet safety standards
Permits are required for marinas on the Highland Lakes
Marina applications open for public comment
Review permit applications and submit comments
LCRA installs and maintains channel markers and hazard buoys , and issues permits for regulatory buoys on the Highland Lakes.
All boat docks and marinas on the Highland Lakes must be built and maintained to standards set out in the Safety Standards for Residential Docks on the Highland Lakes or the Highland Lakes Marina Ordinance.
Entities providing public access to or public services on the Highland Lakes must apply for a Restricted Area Permit from LCRA to place buoys on the lakes.
Shoreline property owners may place U.S. Coast Guard-approved no-wake buoys up to 50 feet beyond their shore or dock without a permit under LCRA’s Lakewide Authorization.
Read the LCRA Buoy Permit Guide for more on Restricted Area Permits, Lakewide Authorization and the process for installing a buoy. To request a Buoy and Restricted Area Permit, complete the application and submit it along with a vicinity map and detailed plan to [email protected].
Residential boat docks on lakes Buchanan, Inks, LBJ, Marble Falls and Travis must meet the Safety Standards for Residential Docks on the Highland Lakes for dock flotation, lighting, access, anchoring and maximum distances from shore. The standards also specify enforcement measures LCRA can take regarding docks that do not meet the standards.
LCRA does not require a permit, registration or fees for residential docks of 1,500 square feet or less. LCRA Land and Water Use Regulations prohibit floating habitable structures on the Highland Lakes.
The City of Austin is responsible for management of Lake Austin dock and safety regulations. For questions regarding boat docks on Lake Austin, contact the Austin Parks and Recreation Department at 512-974-6700.
- Residential Boat Dock Safety Guidelines – Recommendations for placing and maintaining docks on the Highland Lakes.
- Prepare your dock for floods on the Highland Lakes.
Residential boat dock frequently asked questions
- Can I have a dock at my lakeside property?
In general, lakeside property owners on the Highland Lakes are allowed to build and operate personal residential docks on their property. However, property owners must own or have permission to use the submerged land under a fixed dock, and must own or have permission to use underwater property for anchors for a floating dock. An owner with property next to LCRA-owned land must contact LCRA Real Estate Services at 800-776-5272 to secure permission before placing a dock over submerged LCRA-owned property.Please note that not all locations on the lakes are suitable for docks. This would include areas where a dock would not be able to comply with LCRA safety standards regarding very shallow areas, narrow coves, rocky terrain or hazardous areas.
- How far can my dock extend from the shoreline?
The maximum distance that a dock may extend from the shoreline is different for each lake. The distances are:
- Lake Buchanan: 150 feet
- Inks Lake: 35 feet
- Lake LBJ: 50 feet
- Lake Marble Falls: 35 feet
- Lake Travis: 100 feet
Docks are only allowed if an additional 40 feet of lake access is available. For instance, if a cove is less than 40 feet wide (including existing docks on the opposite shore of the cove), only recessed docks can be built in the cove as a new dock would violate the 40-foot rule.
- My neighbors are building a dock partially on my property and claims it is only on their property. Can LCRA require they move their dock off my property?
No, LCRA does not have authority to adjudicate private property rights claims.
- Dilapidated docks are not allowed on the Highland Lakes. What is the definition of a dilapidated dock?
A dock is considered dilapidated if:
- Any structural members are not securely attached and could pose an immediate safety or navigation hazard.
- The dock is submerged.
- The dock is not floating upright.
- The dock has decks or floors that are submerged.
- The dock is in a state of disrepair.
- The dock is otherwise not in compliance with the Safety Standards for Residential Docks on the Highland Lakes.
- Does LCRA require an annual dock inspection?
No. Inspections are not required, although any dock placed on LCRA lakes must comply with the Safety Standards for Residential Docks on the Highland Lakes. Upon receipt of a report, complaint or suspicion of possible violation of the safety standards, or at the request of a residential dock owner, an agent or employee of LCRA may inspect a residential dock. LCRA may issue a notice of violation to docks that do not comply with the safety standards.
- Do LCRA regulations supersede local rules for residential docks?
Dock owners must comply with all rules and regulations related to residential docks, including those from local jurisdictions or property owner associations, regardless of which rules are more restrictive.
All marinas on lakes Buchanan, Inks, LBJ, Marble Falls and Travis must be constructed, modified and operated in compliance with the Highland Lakes Marina Ordinance and must have a permit from LCRA. The ordinance also applies to floating docks that occupy more than 1,500 square feet of water surface area.
The LCRA Board of Directors approved an updated version of the marina ordinance on May 24, 2023, that took effect immediately. Some of the major changes include:
- Updated marina annual fees, which will be phased in over two years.
- Establishing a two-year deadline for marinas to replace unencapsulated foam or enter into a replacement agreement with LCRA.
- A ban on new community marinas (marinas that serve a neighborhood or community in lieu of multiple residential docks.)
To transfer a marina permit, please complete an Application to Assign a Marina Facility Permit.
The applications can be emailed to [email protected], submitted in person at LCRA’s office at 3700 Lake Austin Blvd. in Austin, or mailed to:
LCRA Water Surface Management
P.O. Box 220
Austin, TX 78767-0220
Marina Permit Applications for Public Comment
LCRA received an application for a permit to operate an existing unpermitted dock on Lake Travis. LCRA has completed its technical review of the application and is accepting comments on the draft permit. Please submit comments on the draft permit by Tuesday, March 19.
LCRA received an application for a permit to operate a new aquatic obstacle course associated with Horseshoe Bay Resort on Lake LBJ. LCRA has determined the application is administratively complete and is accepting public comments. LCRA now is reviewing and evaluating the information in the application as part of its technical review.