Plenty of water, very little flooding; Why Central Texas’ water supply is recovering

Weather & Traffic In-Depth

AUSTIN (KXAN) — What a difference a few months make. After a widespread drought in winter and early spring, the wet late spring and summer have kept our grass green and helped fill up our water supply.

“Water management in the Colorado River Basin is a cyclical balance between droughts and floods,” said Lower Colorado River Authority Executive Vice President John Hofmann. The lakes haven’t been this full since spring of 2019.

“We fill up usually during flood events and then we’ll use the water that’s in our water storage reservoirs as we go through these dry cycles waiting for the next flood cycle to come back through and fill everything back up again,” Hofmann said.

Rain and flooding this year was different

Hofmann added, “We did not see historic level massive level flooding, we saw a good continuous rainfall, both in the area that feeds the Highland Lakes and in the Austin area, we also saw it down in the lowest part of the Colorado river basin down towards the Gulf of Mexico.”

It was almost the perfect way to fill up the reservoirs, getting consistently above average rainfall, but usually not too much.

“Average is a mathematical number. We don’t experience average very often. We either tend to have a whole lot or we tend to be very dry,” Hofmann said.

Lake Travis and Lake Buchanan are two of the primary water supplies for Central Texas. Combined they gained almost 250,000 acre-feet of water since late April peaking on July 22 with the highest water levels of the year.

By late August, water levels were still a few feet above where they normally are as we head into what could be a drier stretch.

Said Hofmann: “Our water supplies are in pretty good shape.”

But flooding can happen at any time of year in Central Texas, so we must always be ready for when we get too much again.

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