Floodgates to open at Mansfield Dam for first time in 9 years

All the rain over this last year has filled up the Highland Lakes. So much so that, for the first time since 2007, the Lower Colorado River Authority is going to open the floodgates at Mansfield Dam.

All six LCRA dams in the area have been releasing water through hydroelectric generation. This will be the fifth dam to have its floodgates opened. 

It’s been almost a year since people who live near Lake Travis have had to worry that water levels may not rebound after years of drought.

“You could almost walk from here to the other side. I mean, it was a seven year drought. It was pretty bad,” said Keith Keith who lives near Lake Travis. 

“We live right by the lake and it's been all the way down to where it was just a river pretty much coming all the way down. Sometimes Highland was all the way up and now it's just absolutely gorgeous,” said Francine Walker who was kayaking at the lake with her children Sunday.

Now the lake sits at 105 percent full and with more water came more visitors, business and construction.

“This is probably the most people I've seen here in a long time,” said James Acosta who visits Lake Travis often. 

“The developers are coming in starting to build again on property that they thought was too far down away from the water,” Keith said. 

The LCRA said the rain filtering into the lakes is more than Lake Travis or Lake Buchanan can safely hold, so the time has come to open the floodgates at Mansfield Dam.

“It’s like the thing everybody goes to watch I guess,” Acosta said.

The LCRA said the gates will remain open for at least 48 hours and the water will be released at a rate that it can safely flow downstream without contributing to any current flooding.

But the LCRA opening the floodgates is something people who live near the lake are weary of.

“We don't feel that they've really managed it very well. It seems like we either panicked there's no water or we panic now we have too much water, let everything out. Hopefully, they're looking a little bit more towards the future, making sure they manage it a little bit better,” Walker said. 

The LCRA said waiting until Monday will allow floodwater downstream of Lake Travis to sink into the lower basin. Water released should reach the lower basin in five to seven days.

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