It seems to have rained a boatload over Central Texas in recent weeks, so we decided to check on the water levels for Lake Travis hoping the much-needed rain helped.
As Texas faced icy, wet and sometimes frozen precipitation within the past month, Lake Travisites continued to optimistically cross their fingers for an increase in water in the thirsty Highland Lakes. But even as the creeks and waterways welcomed the recent rain, Lake Travis is still way below its fill point.
With continued efforts of everyone conserving where they can and last weeks’ rainfall, we are hovering at 37% full. The lowest historical combined storage in lakes Buchanan and Travis was 31% full, which occurred back in 1952 during the 1947-57 drought.
The Lower Colorado River Authority, which keeps detailed records of all of the lake’s fluctuations and droughts, is quick to note that 6 out of the last 10 slowest inflows into Lake Travis have occurred since 2008, the start of the current drought. Clearly, we have a while to go until we see Lake Travis filled to capacity.
Ways to Conserve
With some of the lowest water levels on record to date, there are many small changes we can make to our daily routines that make a huge impact on Lake Travis. From the way we water our yards to the amount of hot showers we enjoy, we can all do our part to help sustain the water level in Lake Travis.
Take a Break from Watering the Lawn – While the sun hasn’t made too many appearances yet this spring, it will be tempting to turn on the sprinklers at the first sight of 90 degree weather. If you can hold off on that, however, big differences in the water level could happen.
Yes, it can be nice having the greenest and lushest grass on the block, but look at the bigger picture and the effects of the dwindling water in Lake Travis. If you have to water, do so in the early morning or late evening when the sun isn’t out. And invest in a high efficiency watering system instead of the “spray anywhere” model that wastes so much water.
Limit Showers to a Few a Week – This might be one of the toughest tasks of all, to have to limit how many times we hop in the shower. But all of those gallons down the drain add up, and fast. Conservationists recommend limiting showers to a few a week, and turning down the heat to save on energy costs, as well.
Turn off Outdoor Fountains – The Lake Travis area has its fair share of neighborhood fountains and yard art. But when you factor in all of the continuously flowing water, the “wow” factor seems to fade away a bit. During the peak evaporation season, turn off water fountains and drain them. They might not be as nice to look at, but won’t be using up gallons of water every day.
Limit Water Usage in Household Appliances – This is a tough one, as I am a huge fan of separating laundry loads (whites, reds, blues, colors, delicates, his and hers — you get the idea!) and daily dish washing sessions. However, after a bit of practice it becomes second nature to plan out the more efficient ways to run your appliances.
As an example, I try to wait until I have a good basket of laundry (not just 3 or 4 pieces) before I start a load. It saves water and simplifies your list of tasks you need to get through. The same goes for washing dishes. Although it’s tempting to want the crystal clean feeling you get from throwing a few sparse pans in the washer, it’s way more efficient to wait until the machine is full to run a load.
Combine these tactics with your own methods for water conservation and we might just see a big change in Lake Travis this year. And in the meantime, I’ll keep praying for rain.
Support Our Waterfront Businesses
Although we are in the midst of a drought, the good news is great businesses still have faith in the future of our beautiful lake and are helping to revitalize waterfront business. We recently found out Lucy’s Fried Chicken will open its quirky and cool restaurant in the space Iguana Grill occupied. Also, Sundancer Grill (owned and operated by Chef Ben of Cafe Blue) is happily serving up bistro-inspired cuisine in the former Shades Cafe space.