Highland Lakes less than 50% full ahead of dry, warm summer

It’s starting to look more green around Austin, but Central Texas is still in the red.

"We're in a sustained, significant drought," said John Hofmann, executive vice president of water for LCRA. 

FOX 7 took a look at Highland Lake levels in January. Lake Buchanan and Lake Travis were 42% full at the time. 

Fast-forward to April, and the dial still has not moved.

"We need rainfall to occur north and west of the Austin area. So, Fredericksburg, through Llano, Texas, up towards Brady, Texas, up to maybe even Brownwood, Texas," said Hofmann. "That's the sweet spot for our water supply reservoirs." 

"It hasn't hit our watershed, and it has to hit there for it to benefit everyone besides just lawns," said Shannon Hamilton, executive director of the Central Texas Water Coalition.

In February, LCRA restricted outdoor watering to once a day.

"In the spring, people get excited, we get a little bit of rain. It's still cool. They want to go to their local plant store, and they want to buy things to make their yards look beautiful and landscape them," said Hofmann. "And we really want to encourage people to make decisions based on plant life that can live on water no more than once a week."

According to the EPA, up to 70% of treated water is used on yards.

"The most important thing people in Central Texas can understand is they all have a part to play in preserving and conserving our water supplies," said Hofmann. "The little decisions they make on a day-in and day-out basis, particularly with respect to watering their yards, is going to be really important for us."

On Thursday, NOAA released its latest seasonal outlook through July, predicting a move from El Niño to La Niña by early summer, which means a warm and dry summer is forecasted for the southern states.

"We have never gone into a La Niña with our lakes this low," said Hamilton. "We are potentially, in August, declaring a new drought of record." 

The Barton Springs Edwards Aquifer Conservation District which manages and conserves the Edwards and Trinity aquifers and groundwater resources within its territory, is currently in Stage II Alarm Drought.