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Lake Travis, Down by 51 Feet

Lake Travis tourism remains sparse with the lake being 51 feet lower than its usual 681 feet above mean sea level. This sets the lake at only 39% capacity. The Colorado River, which was dammed in 1937, can currently be seen when viewing the lake. At its lowest, Lake Travis was 614.2 feet in 1951.

Few parks are open around the 270 miles of shoreline. Cypress Creek Park’s boat ramps and docks are enveloped by growing weeds.

Many marinas around the Lake have either closed or had to make major adjustments to their docks.

Widespread rains over the Memorial Day weekend raised lake levels in lakes Travis and Buchanan, but the severe drought gripping the region continues.

Lakes Travis and Buchanan, the region’s water supply reservoirs, gained more than 76,000 acre-feet in combined storage in May. This is more than what was gained in the first four months of 2014, but the inflows were still only 38 percent of the average for May.

Though the heavy rains were welcome, they were not enough to end the seven-year drought throughout much of the lower Colorado River basin. Lakes Travis and Buchanan stand at 39 percent of capacity as the region heads into what is forecast to be a dry summer.

Lakes Travis and Buchanan provide drinking water to more than a million people, and water to industries, businesses and the environment throughout the lower Colorado River basin. The lakes are filled when rain falls in their watershed, running off into the rivers and creeks that flow into the lakes. Water entering the lakes is called “inflows.” Inflows have been at or near historic lows for an extended period of time during this drought:

  • The lowest inflows in history occurred in 2011, with only about 10 percent of the annual average amount of water entering the lakes.
  • The second lowest inflows in history entered the lakes in 2013.
  • The third lowest inflows in history entered the lakes in 2008.
  • The sixth lowest inflows in history entered the lakes in 2012.
  • The ninth lowest inflows in history entered the lakes in 2009.
  • 2014 inflows from January through May are the sixth lowest on record for that five-month period.
  • 2014 inflows from January through April were the lowest on record for that four-month period.

 

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