Waiting for the drought to lift and the lakes to rise?
The Lower Colorado River Authority on Monday said Central Texas remains in a state of severe drought and renewed to call for water conservation.
"We're not going to run out of water, but everyone needs to understand that this is a serious situation," LCRA general manager Becky Motal said. "It's going to take a significant amount of rain over an extended period of time to refill our lakes.
"We don't know when that will happen, so it's critical that everyone follow the watering restrictions put in place by their local water providers and conserve water wherever and whenever they can."
Because of the extended period of dry weather, the amount of water flowing into lakes Travis and Buchanan has been reduced to record-low levels for several years.
The lakes serve as reservoirs for more than a million Central Texans and businesses and industries throughout the lower Colorado River basin. The combined storage of both stands at 38 percent full, and weather forecasts hold little hope of significant relief in the near future.
Lakes Travis and Buchanan currently hold slightly less than 770,000 acre-feet of water and need more than 1 million acre-feet to fill up. That's about the amount of water added to the lakes in summer 2007, when 19 inches of rain fell on Marble Falls in one night.
The river authority said that because of the drought, inflows from the rivers and streams that feed the lake:
- Hit an all-time low in 2011
- Were the fifth lowest ever in 2012
- Are about the same in 2013 as they were this time of the year in 2011
Lakes Buchanan and Travis are low, but the combined storage was lower in the summer of 2011. It was also lower in 1964 and during the drought of the 1950s, the worst drought in the state's recorded history.
The LCRA also is looking for new supplies of water. It recently received permits to pump up to 10,000 acre-feet of water a year during a drought from wells in Bastrop County and is building a new off-channel reservoir in Wharton County that should be completed by 2017. The reservoir could add up to 90,000 acre-feet to the region's water supply.
"We're working hard to make sure that we not only have enough water to make it through this drought, but also serve a growing region through future droughts," Motal said. "Water is precious resource. We can't create it, so it's vital to plan ahead."
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