Lakebed Clearing


The ongoing drought has created areas of exposed lakebed and allowed vegetation to grow alongside lakes Buchanan and Travis. The vegetation can provide valuable habitat for aquatic species when the lakes are at higher levels but can create a nuisance for property owners while the lakes are at lower levels.

Property owners on lakes Buchanan and Travis can clear vegetation such as grasses, brush and trees within their property limits in exposed lakebeds following the procedures outlined below. LCRA encourages clearing only as necessary to address property concerns.

Clearing activities that do not disturb the lakebed sediment, including mowing, shredding, chainsawing, rotary cutting and manual removal of terrestrial vegetation, do not require notification to or a permit from LCRA and may be done at any time.

Clearing activities that require notification to LCRA

When Lake Buchanan is below 1,013 feet above mean sea level (feet msl) or Lake Travis is below 676 feet msl, property owners on those lakes may:

  • Clear debris, such as tree trunks, from around boat docks or retaining walls.
  • Repair existing retaining walls and bulkheads.

These clearing activities that disturb lakebed sediment may be done under LCRA’s lakewide permits from the Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) if the work meets the permit requirements and require submitting notification to LCRA. Clearing activities that disturb lakebed sediment include work that involves equipment pushing, dragging or digging within the lakebed. Projects not authorized under the lakewide permits may require an individual authorization from USACE.

Before work begins, property owners must submit a Highland Lakes Dredge and Fill Ordinance Tier I Written Notification Form to LCRA.

Read the notification checklist. Email completed forms to [email protected] or mail to:

LCRA Water Quality
P.O. Box 220
Austin, TX 78767-0220

After receiving the notification form, LCRA will provide property owners a copy of LCRA’s Lakewide Permit for Lake Buchanan or Lake Travis, the corresponding USACE general permit, and a Notice of Lakewide Permit. Property owners must prominently display the notice during the clearing work.

Activities requiring a dredging permit from LCRA

Projects that involve dredging more than 500 cubic yards of material or disturb more than 500 linear feet of shoreline must apply for an individual Tier II HLDO permit from LCRA. Depending on the scope of intended work, property owners may need to obtain a permit or authorization from state or federal agencies such as the Texas Historical Commission or Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.

Guidance for clearing methods and disposal

  • Do not burn any vegetation or other matter in the lakebeds.
  • Remove equipment from the lakebed each day.
  • Fully remove all cleared vegetation from the lakebed and properly dispose of it. Cleared vegetation may not be pushed into or left in the lakes.
  • Ensure activities do not interfere with navigation or create a navigation hazard on the lakes.
  • Ensure all activities are conducted within your property bounds, and not within exposed lakebed owned by LCRA.
  • Ensure activities do not occur in the proximity of a public water supply intake. Property owners should notify LCRA or the public water provider of maintenance needed around a public water supply intake.
  • Ensure there is no unauthorized discharge of pollutants to the lake or lakebed.
  • Obtain approval from LCRA and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department in advance to manually remove or chemically control any native or invasive aquatic plants growing in the water. See details on LCRA’s managing nuisance aquatic plants webpage.

LCRA strongly discourages the use of herbicides and pesticides in the lakebed and adjacent areas. If an herbicide or pesticide is used, applicants should follow all label requirements.

For more information, call LCRA Water Quality Protection at 512-578-2324.