Lake Buchanan still just 52% full, 16 feet below average

The owners of Willow Point Resort know Lake Buchanan is full when the water line reaches to this tree and bench. The water line on June 23, 2015 was about 150 yards away. (Rosie Newberry/KXAN)
The owners of Willow Point Resort know Lake Buchanan is full when the water line reaches to this tree and bench. The water line on June 23, 2015 was about 150 yards away. (Rosie Newberry/KXAN)

BUCHANAN DAM, Texas (KXAN) — Lake Buchanan is one of the two Highland Lakes that supplies water to more than one million Central Texans. Along with Lake Travis, these two lakes have a combined storage of 665 billion gallons of water.

Soaking May and June rains actually has Lake Travis sitting one foot above its normal June levels for the first time in five years. Lake Buchanan has also risen, but due to its location deep in the historically drier Hill Country, it continues to miss out on beneficial storm systems. Lake Buchanan is currently only 52 percent full.

Bryan and Gwen Carpenter own Willow Point Resort on the shores of Buchanan. As Bryan points out, Buchanan is shaped like a bowl, but heavy rain or a few dry days can change the shoreline hundreds of feet in any direction.

“Our row of beautiful lounge chairs and our canoes for our guests are underwater. I don’t mind,” Bryan added. “I’ll be happy to go down tomorrow and move them all back 40 feet closer to the cabins.”

The Carpenters believe that better times are ahead for the resort they have owned for the past 12 years.

“Last year was our worst year,” said Gwen. “Every year during the drought got a little worse.”

But the Carpenters held on. Other small resort businesses along Buchanan folded.

“Yes, several of our colleagues and friends have, over the several years of drought, either declared bankruptcy or just walked away.”

Gwen estimates Willow Point is one of three or four small resorts still open. When the Carpenters moved into the resort, she says there were 15 to 20.

Lake Buchanan is still more than 16 feet below its historical June average, so area business owners are hoping to see lake levels rise another 10 feet, if they can get it. The number of gallons needed to fill Buchanan back up — 136 billion — is staggering. That is equivalent to 18 gallons of water for every person on the planet.

But the lower-than-normal water levels are not keeping everyone away. Bill Lemens is part of a 45-person family group that vacations at Buchanan every year, regardless of the water level.

“We’ve been kayaking and sailing and swimming and just playing in the water,” he said.

Lake Buchanan is forecast to continue rising next week.

 

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