The Lower Colorado River Authority manages the water used in much of Central Texas and parts downstream. For most of the last several years it’s been worried about drought – but not anymore. Earlier this week, the LCRA opened floodgates below Lake Travis for the first time since 2007 to allow excess water out. Now, the abundance of water is bringing its own set of challenges to the agency.
For one, the LCRA needs to remind people what Lake Travis was built for. It’s been so long since the reservoir was full, people have forgotten that it’s not just there for water storage – it’s also there for flood control. The LCRA will sometimes hold water in Lake Travis to prevent flooding downstream, even if that means some properties on the lake could be inundated. Properties in those areas are said to be “in the flood pool,” said John Hoffman. He’s the LCRA's Vice President of Water.
“When we were a foot into the flood pool this time around, we started getting calls from people around that part of the lake that have homes and things in that area.”
Hoffman was speaking at the LCRA’s annual “meteorologists day,” an event where the agency gives its take on what to expect in the coming year weather-wise. LCRA meteorologist Bob Rose said it’s been a tricky one to forecast.
“Interestingly, I will tell you that going into this summer, I was thinking this is going to be a really hot, dry summer," Rose said. "But you know, I’ve kind of changed my mind a little bit, here over the last month. I don’t think it’s going to be that bad.”
The reason: Moisture in the soil from all this rain will keep temperatures down for the first part of the summer. And a slowly dying El Niño could bring more rain. Once July and August roll around, Rose expects temperatures to rise above normal. And come this fall we may get a La Niña, a weather pattern that typically brings drought, not storms, to Central Texas.