Water level at Lake Travis is at its lowest in nearly 4 years
LAKE TRAVIS, Texas - As we continue to bake through a major drought in Central Texas, the water level at Lake Travis is at its lowest in nearly four years. That’s spurring concerns not just for swimmers and boaters, but about the water supply.
"I mean we’ve been coming out here quite a bit, and today we’ve been noticing some little islands and what not over here, and we were wondering is the water getting low," said Sky Wood, who frequents Lake Travis.
As of Wednesday, the water level at the Mansfield Dam was about 653.5 feet, according to the Lower Colorado River Authority. It’s losing roughly a foot a week, and has more or less been falling since last August.
"It’s been about three and a half years since the levels have been this low. All-time low was in the 1950s, but we’re about 26 feet below average for what we should be seeing this time of year," said FOX 7 Meteorologist Adaleigh Rowe.
Rowe says there are a couple of reasons the lake is losing water, and so quickly.
"It’s not just the lack of rain, it’s the heat. I mean every single day this month has been well above average. And with those hotter temperatures, it excites the water molecules, they rise to the surface faster and that speeds up the evaporation process," said Rowe.
The dropping levels are causing trouble for marinas along Lake Travis, with some boat docks unusable, and boaters watching out for shallow areas.
"Yeah, we’re always keeping an eye out to make sure we’re not damaging the jet ski or ourselves most importantly, so we’ve definitely been on high alert about it," said Wood.
If things get worse, though, the biggest concern could become the water supply.
Right now Austin is in the "conservation stage", which includes restrictions by the day of the week and prohibits wasting water. But if Lake Travis and Lake Buchanan continue to fall, it could mean stricter Stage One Water Restrictions for Austin, possibly in the coming weeks.
In an email, the Lower Colorado River Authority points out: "Lake Travis captures water during rainy times and holds it for people, communities and industries to use during drier times. That is what is happening now. The lake is doing exactly what it is designed to do."
But that’s less than reassuring for people who come here for recreation.
"It makes it hard with families because all the normal beach and tree parks and stuff like that just aren’t safe for them anymore and have the receding water and it’s real grimy and everything like that," said Alison Wood, who frequents Lake Travis.
Rowe says we could see two to three inches of rain early next week, which would make a dent.
"But it’s going to take quite a bit of rainfall over a significant amount of weeks if not months to really get things back where they need to be, and summer is just around so if I had to guess I don’t see that really happening anytime soon."
You can check current lake levels and track changes in water level through the LCRA website.