Rain doesn’t guarantee rising lake levels

The view from Lake Buchanan as rain fell in central Texas.
The view from Lake Buchanan as rain fell in central Texas.

BURNET (KXAN) — If Lake Buchanan drops a few more feet, it will hit a record low. The drought helped plunge the lake to more than 23 feet below its average height.

“Since the first of the year, you know, we’ve had an inch and a half of rain here in four months,” said Shawn Devaney, who owns the business Vanishing Texas River Cruise on Lake Buchanan. “[Any rain] that we can get is a welcome sight.”

When the banks of Lake Buchanan started drying up, so did business for the cruises. Shawn still gives cruises on the lake, but he says the Colorado River has been inaccessible to him for about 4 years.

“There is no business. It’s down 90-percent,” said Shawn. Showers need to fall in the Lake Buchanan watershed to boost the water supply there. Even with rainfall in the right area, the soil may have to saturate first, according to the Lower Colorado River Authority. The soil was dry early Monday.

A view of the Highland Lakes Watershed. (Courtesy: LCRA)
A view of the Highland Lakes Watershed. (Courtesy: LCRA)

“One thing to watch out far is not just where it falls, but how it falls,” said Clara Tuma, spokesperson with LCRA.

Still, if rain falls directly above the lakes, it can boost levels. Water that falls in the Highland Lakes Watershed can also indirectly help Lake Buchanan. The water from the watershed runs into the Highland Lakes, which  includes Lake Travis and Buchanan.

A spokesperson for LCRA says as long as water makes it into the system somewhere, it can help. LCRA operates the lakes and rivers as a system. If Lake Travis gets more water, for example, that could mean less water will be sent downstream from Lake Buchanan.

“We sit there and watch the radar and just pray,” said Shawn. “Come this way (rain), please come this way. That’s about all you can do.”

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