Why not open the Mansfield Dam to relieve flooding? The LCRA says it’s not that simple

Weather Blog

AUSTIN (KXAN) — With severe weather Wednesday, many bodies of water in Central Texas are seemingly bursting at the seams. With Lake Travis holding in a potential flood many have asked why the floodgates of the Mansfield Dam aren’t opened to relieve some of that pressure.

The Lower Colorado River Authority says it is not that simple.

The LCRA says the Colorado River below Austin is already bank full — so opening the Mansfield Dam to flood it with water from Lake Travis is not an option.

Lake Travis is known as a flood control reservoir and is currently at 104 percent capacity. It could also rise to 685 feet, an increase of two feet in the next one to two days.

The LCRA also says Lake Buchanan could see about a two-feet increase due to water flowing from the San Saba River, to the Colorado River and finally into the lake.

Lake Travis residents watch lake levels

While waters at Lake Travis seem calm now, the LCRA projects the water to rise three-to-four feet above the flood plain.

People who live on the water are closely watching lake levels — if the water rises a few more feet it could start to reach their homes. 

Although insurance companies require many of the houses along Lake Travis to have stilts, it’s sometimes still not enough to keep disaster from ruining everything inside.

Steve Percivill, lives in Graveyard Point — a name for a neighborhood on Lake Travis that has abandoned houses lining its streets. The families that once called the street home were forced out after years of flooding.

“If it floods again, or anytime soon, yeah, it’s going to be real frustrating,” said Percivill. “It just happened and we are not even 100 percent built yet.”

Another resident of Graveyard Point says he remembers a time when floodwaters rose above his roof. 

KEY LCRA RESOURCES:

  • Flood Operations Report – For current conditions, lake level projections and more.
  •  LCRA Hydromet – For rainfall, streamflow and lake level data updated every 15 minutes, and more.  
  •  River Operations Report
  •  Flood Operations Notification Service (FONS)– A free service that will call, text and/or email when floodgate operations are beginning at each of the dams.
  •  Flood Guide — Explains how LCRA manages floodwaters and includes key elevations for Lake Travis.

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