Water recreation and safety

Water Recreation Safety

Safe boating

  • Know the rules. Before you visit the lakes, be familiar with the Texas Water Safety Act and LCRA Land and Water Use Regulations. The water safety act includes statewide rules regarding boater education, life jackets and boat operation. The LCRA regulations include limits on boat speed and noise levels on the Highland Lakes.
  • Be aware of changing conditions. The Highland Lakes are not constant-level lakes. Lake elevations can change quickly and create potentially hazardous boating conditions.  
  • Clean, drain and dry your boat to prevent the spread of invasive zebra mussels.
  • Read more about navigating the Highland Lakes.

Buoys and markers

Buoys and markers are water traffic signs offering direction and information. They also help identify dangerous areas and restricted zones.

Know your buoys and markers
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​Channel/Mile Markers
​Controlled area
No fishing, no anchoring. There may be water-skiers. Slow down so as to not create a wake.

Boaters keep out!
Written description of danger may be displayed outside the crossed diamond, e.g., dam, water intake, swim area or rapids.

Danger!
Written description of danger may be displayed outside the diamond shape, e.g., rocks, stumps, hazards or shallow areas.
Green "can"-shaped buoy
Facing upstream, these green buoys are on the left of the channel. They have odd numbers and may have a green light on top.


Red "nun's cap"-shaped buoy
Facing upstream, these buoys are on the right of the channel. They have even numbers and may have a red light on top.
  • Mile or channel markers are installed on the main channel of the Colorado River on lakes Buchanan, LBJ and Travis. The river channel is not marked on other Highland Lakes.
  • Mile or channel markers are sequentially numbered starting at the dam and are spaced about a mile apart. Facing upstream, green markers are on the left and have odd numbers. Red markers are on the right and have even numbers.
  • State law forbids mooring or attaching a vessel to any buoy or marker. It’s also illegal to move, remove, displace, tamper with, damage or destroy any buoy or marker.
  • LCRA installs and maintains hazard buoys on LCRA lakes. Occasionally, a mile or channel marker or buoy may become detached from its anchor, or become damaged or inoperable. To report problems with mile or channel markers or buoys, call LCRA Water Surface Management at 800-776-5272, ext. 4783.
  • Regulatory buoys on the Highland Lakes must have a permit from LCRA. For information, please contact Tim Bradle, Water Surface Management programs manager, at tim.bradle@lcra.org or 512-730-6841.

Safe swimming

  • Swim in designated areas. LCRA Land and Water Use Regulations prohibit swimming within 50 feet of any public boat ramp on the Highland Lakes. The Highland Lakes are not constant-level lakes, and lake elevations can change quickly. Swimmers should be aware the lake bottom can be uneven and can include debris or rocks.
  • Never swim alone.
  • Wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket.
  • Swimming in a river, lake or pond always carries a risk of exposure. Unlike swimming pools, natural water bodies are not chlorinated or disinfected. Bacteria levels are typically higher after heavy rains, when fecal matter, vegetation and other debris has been washed into lakes and streams. People who enter the water do so at their own risk.
    • Read more about a rare but often-deadly infection, primary amoebic meningoencephalitis (PAM), and guidelines for prevention.

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