Sunday, September 6, 2009

Lake Travis (or the lack there-of)

I went out to document the drought by taking some photos of Lake Travis today, or what is left of Lake Travis that is.

From Cafe Bleu on Lime Creek Road. It isn't so much on the lake anymore:

And the boats at the yacht club next door appear to be quickly running out of water to float upon:

The rest of these photos are from Mansfield Dam.

So, no lake here:

You need to venture further down in the hole to find the water. Here it is down and to the right:

Look at the boulders crumbling into the lake at what would normally be the water's edge:

Shrubs are growing out of the limestone slabs and are usually covered in water:

For comparison, here is a photo of the same spot (with the fam) in 2002:

The shoreline marks the lowering lake levels:

Looking across to the other side:

A panoramic view (click on the image to see a larger view):

The Dam:

Better put on your hiking boots 'cause it's quite a walk to the waters edge:

The lake is turning into grasslands:

You can now wade, yes, I said wade, to the sometimes islands:

This is the LCRA River report for Friday, September 4th:

As of Friday afternoon, "Lake Travis was at 631.17 ft msl, which is about 33.9 feet below its historic average level in September of 665.13 ft msl. The total combined storage in the Highland Lakes two water storage reservoirs, lakes Buchanan and Travis, is about 804,555 acre-feet (ac-ft), or about 40 percent full."

Lake Travis has only been lower during two past droughts:
Drought Lowest Level Date
1964 615.02 ft msl Nov. 8, 1963
1950's 614.18 ft msl Aug. 14, 1951 (the lake's all-time low elevation)

We are quickly approaching historic low-lake levels. I'm thinking we are gonna require a hurricane to fill the lake back up. Put on your rain-dance boots everyone...


Meredith/Great Stems said...


The comparison photos really show the state of things here. I miss swimming in Lake Travis.

Aerin said...

Aww- I stumbled across your blog and I'm about to read more of it. I just had to pause, I didn't know how much I missed Austin until I saw these photos. I used to live very near this lake and I have seen it get very low on occasion. I miss everything about it, even the insanely thick fogs in the mornings while driving my daughter to school. We have moved out of state but my husband was offered a great job in San Antonio- so I am trying to find a way to live in Austin while he worked in SA- heh. I wish they would get that Metrorail going all the way to SA! Back to reading, enough rambling

Pam/Digging said...

That's really sad.

Lee17 said...

Meredith - Well, you can still swim, you just have to hike a ways to get there. And you can wade to the sometimes islands, so there's that. Sigh. *wishing for rain*

Lee17 said...


It has been awfully miserable this summer in Austin. It's making me want to move away. And the state of Lake Travis is really pathetic. I am really worried what will happen if we don't get some significant rainfall soon.

Lee17 said...


It is sad. Sad and fairly disturbing. We are going to run out of water if we don't get rain soon. Come on El Nino!

cat said...

oh gosh...we live right next to the lake and it's so sad right now. boats that should be in the water are clinging to the land along with their docks....

we need rain so badly..and lots of it!