lady bird lake

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.

Bryan Winter for KUT

The city has lifted a temporary ban on boating and recreational use of Lady Bird Lake, after flooding earlier this month. But even with that ban lifted, there's still one thing you definitely can't do in the lake: Go swimming. 

It may be well-known to longtime residents (who probably still call it Town Lake), but swimming in Austin’s “crown jewel” is illegal. Seems it has been for 50 years. 

Still, when contacted, public information staff at several city departments seemed surprised to hear such a ban exists.

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.

Mengwen Cao/KUT News

Water, the outdoors, music: all things Austinites enjoy, especially when the weather is nice. And all three can go well with some type of beverage in hand.

That was the case during this weekend’s Aqua Olympics. The fourth annual family/tattoo/dog-friendly event, presented by Fun Fun Fun Fest, took over Fiesta Gardens on Saturday afternoon. Events included classic outdoor games like a potato sack race, balloon toss and a ‘6-legged’ race. And, in typical Fun Fun Fun Fest fashion, there were activities like a paddleboard joust on Lady Bird Lake, a taco cannon, a belching contest, and a ‘lagoon launch’ where some of Austin’s best BMX bikers shot down a ramp, flew and flipped through the air, landing in the lake. For many, it could be considered a typical Austin afternoon.

flickr.com/ejmc

The Lady Bird Lake Boardwalk opened June 7. The 1.3 mile boardwalk completes a 10-mile loop of trail around the lake.

While a boon to runner and cyclists, the new boardwalk also lets users view downtown Austin from a fresh vantage point. Many in Austin have already utilized the boardwalk to capture new perspectives of the city after this weekend’s grand opening.

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