LCRA installs new gauges to better monitor flash flooding

New LCRA flood gauge in Utley (Bastrop Co.)

Five new Hydromet gauges offer additional data in flood-prone region

BASTROP COUNTY, Texas — The Lower Colorado River Authority has completed installation of five new stream and river gauges in Bastrop and east Travis counties to expand and enhance the region’s flood preparedness.

Rainfall totals, streamflow and other data from the new gauges downstream of Austin are now available on LCRA’s Hydromet at hydromet.lcra.org.

Information from the new gauges will supplement data from more than 275 automatic weather and river gauges in the lower Colorado River basin, including 21 other gauges between Austin and Smithville. The new gauges are located at:

  • Colorado River near Webberville
  • Colorado River near Utley
  • Colorado River near Upton
  • Dry Creek near Elroy
  • Walnut Creek near Rockne

“We owe it to the residents of Bastrop County to give them every available tool to avoid a loss of life and property in the event of a devastating flood,” said state Sen. Kirk Watson, whose district includes Bastrop County and most of Travis County. “I’m thankful that the LCRA has responded so quickly to my request and is helping provide us additional tools.”

LCRA began identifying and evaluating potential sites for the gauges in November 2015, following rains that flooded parts of Bastrop and other areas. After securing permission from landowners, Travis County and the Texas Department of Transportation, LCRA installed and tested the gauges this year.

“As residents of Flash Flood Alley, we know how quickly floods can occur in this region and how important it is for local officials and residents to know how much water is headed downstream,” said Phil Wilson, LCRA general manager. “We are proud to continue LCRA’s longstanding commitment to the entire river basin by providing additional, valuable information about real-time conditions.”

LCRA’s Hydromet gauges provide current data on lake levels, streamflow, river stage, rainfall totals, temperature and humidity. LCRA provides information from the Hydromet to the National Weather Service West Gulf River Forecast Center and the public.

Data from the Hydromet gauges provide vital information on conditions in more than 14,700 square miles of the Highland Lakes watershed, and in more than 3,600 square miles of the Colorado River watershed downstream of Lake Travis.

LCRA built its original Hydromet system of 74 river and weather gauges in the early 1980s. Since then, LCRA has expanded and upgraded the network with additional gauges and more powerful computers and state-of-the-art equipment to transmit Hydromet data over LCRA’s radio system.

LCRA estimates it would take more than $19 million to build a similar system today.

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