Heavy rains do little for Highland Lakes

FILE IMAGE (David Yeomans/KXAN)

(KXAN) — Monday night’s storm is a step in the right direction towards filling the lakes and potentially lessening the water restrictions currently in place.

But just how much did the heavy rains help the Highland Lakes?

Unfortunately, the view of Lake Travis on Tuesday is not much different than the view Monday. “Extreme” to “exceptional” drought conditions in the Hill Country meant that the thirsty soil simply soaked up much of the heavy rain Monday night, and any rises in the levels of the Highland Lakes will be extremely small.

The creeks and streams flowing into Lakes Travis and Buchanan saw 1-3 inches of rain, with higher totals approaching 5 inches downstream in Austin.

When Lakes Travis and Buchanan are full, they hold enough water to supply Central Texas for more than three years. Before the rains, there was only enough water for 479 days, or about a year and four months. Last night’s rain added only two days’ worth of water.

“I wonder where all the water went,” said Kate Griffin who was visiting Austin. She stopped by The Oasis to check out the lakes on Tuesday. “I think it’s really sad, but I’m from California and we’re going through our own drought so I understand.”

Even though the lakes didn’t see much benefit from Monday night’s heavy thunderstorms, the Lower Colorado River Authority says, on the bright side, the rain means Central Texans will not have to water their lawns for at least the next several days.

The LCRA added that when it doesn’t rain, we are losing the equivalent of 1-2 feet off of Lake Travis each week to regular usage, evaporation, and other draws on the lakes.

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