LCRA prepares for flooding with new alert system

Tom Miller Dam (Kate Weidaw, KXAN)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — The chance of rain that begins on Wednesday is not expected to bring flooding to Central Texas, but the Lower Colorado River Authority is preparing for the next big downpour. Officials are changing their alert system for when they open their floodgates, and that impacts more than just the people who live or work along the lakes.

“If you’re a canoeing enthusiast or kayaking enthusiast who likes to be downstream of the dam, you would want to know if there was swift water about to come your way,” said John Hofmann, executive vice president of Water for LCRA. “And when we engage in floodgate operations, there can be swift water that comes out.”

Right now, the LCRA has an alert system that provides notification via email, text or phone when floodgate operations happen. However, that system is being upgraded, and anyone currently on the notification system needs to sign up once again on the LCRA website. And while the drought is holding strong in Central Texas, it could change at any moment.

“Our droughts are usually broken by flooding events, and we go from having a very low lake to an extremely high lake. And it can happen in a very short period of time,” said Hofmann. “So we always stay ready for flooding,”

The last time the Tom Miller Dam was open was in September 2014. At Lake Travis, which is down 42 feet, the floodgates haven’t been opened since 2007. However, the lake has been known to rise quickly in heavy rain. Back in 1952, Lake Travis rose 57 feet in 14 hours because of flooding.

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