lady bird lake

Julia Reihs / KUT

When it's hot in Austin, you just want to go somewhere to cool off, somewhere you can take a swim and forget the oppressive heat that lingers for six months of the year.

There are lots of great spots.

But there's one place you definitely cannot go swimming: Lady Bird Lake (Town Lake, if you're OG).

Julia Reihs / KUT

You can't not notice the trees that line the paths on Austin's many hike and bike trails. But have you ever noticed a fair amount of them are numbered? They're on small metal tags nailed to the trunks.

Writer Will Neely noticed them while he was running along the Butler Hike and Bike Trail, so he asked about it for our ATXplained project, a series where KUT answers questions about life in Austin.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

A new island has risen up near the boardwalk on the south shore of Lady Bird Lake. I noticed it on a recent jog, and I’m not the only one.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

The invasive zebra mussel has been moving south for years, leaving destruction its wake. Now, it’s in Lake Travis (update: and Lake Austin), and it will soon make its way downstream, changing the look, feel and maybe even the taste of Austin’s lakes forever.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT News

The poor condition of the dam that holds in the waters of Austin’s beloved Lady Bird Lake continues to vex city officials.  Emails obtained in a public information request reveal challenges the city faced in performing maintenance on Longhorn Dam, which crosses the Colorado River beneath Pleasant Valley Road. Documents tell of water lost through the dam’s gates that could potentially stay in upstream reservoirs, and show city departments struggling to assign responsibility for the structure and plan a long-term solution.

Austin Energy, the city-owned electric utility, and the Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA) have long known about the need for work on the dam. Austin Energy is the city department that operates the structure. The LCRA operates dams upstream from Austin and coordinates with Austin Energy when they release water downstream.

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