Fast Facts

Some background on the 7 Highland Lakes

Lake Buchanan

The Lower Colorado River Authority’s (LCRA) mission is to enhance the quality of life of the Texans they serve through water stewardship, energy, and community service. They provide public power, manage the lower Colorado River, and build and operate transmission lines across the state and more. LCRA manages the Highland Lakes under a Water Management Plan (WMP) that must be approved by TCEQ.

  • Area: 22,017 acres
  • Surface elevation when full: 1,020

Inks Lake

Inks Lake is a pass-through lake on the Colorado River in the Texas Hill Country. It was formed in 1938 by the construction of Inks Dam, famous for camping, wildflowers, and the Inks Lake State Park.

  • Area: 777 acres
  • Surface elevation when full: 888′

Lake LBJ

Lake Lyndon B. Johnson is a pass through lake on the Colorado River in the Texas Hill Country about 45 miles northwest of Austin. The reservoir was formed in 1950 by the construction of Wirtz Dam to cool the power plant and provide hydroelectricity. This celebrated lake offers boating, swimming, community parks, and a yacht club.

  • Area: 6,275 acres
  • Surface elevation when full: 825′

Lake Marble Falls

Lake Marble Falls is a pass-through lake on the Colorado River in the Texas Hill Country. It was formed in 1951 by the construction of Max Starcke Dam. Beautiful Lake Marble Falls nestles next to the historic town of Marble Falls, noted for its shopping and welcoming tourists.

  • Area: 591 acres
  • Surface elevation when full: 738′

Lake Travis

Lake Travis is a reservoir on the Colorado River formed in 1942 by the construction of Mansfield Dam on the western edge of Austin, Texas, by the Lower Colorado River Authority. It was specifically built to contain floodwaters in a flash-flood prone region and provides great bass fishing, clear water for scuba diving, and famous sunsets.

  • Area: 18,930 acres
  • Surface elevation when full: 681′
  • Length: 65.24 mi

Lake Austin

Lake Austin, formerly Lake McDonald, is a pass-through lake on the Colorado River in Austin, Texas. It was formed in 1940 by the construction of Tom Miller Dam and is a great boating and recreation lake.

  • Area: 1,830 acres
  • Surface elevation when full: 492′

Lady Bird Lake

Lady Bird Lake is a river-like pass-through lake on the Colorado River in Austin, Texas. The City of Austin created the reservoir in 1960 as a cooling pond for a new city power plant. The lake is now used primarily for recreation with paddle trails, hiking and biking trails.

  • Area: 416 acres
  • Surface elevation when full: 468′

Questions that keep us up at night

Where does our water go?
  • Municipal demand, i.e. fastest growing communities in nation
  • Growing business demand, i.e. new Tesla and Samsung plants
  • Agriculture, primarily rice, which requires a lot of water
  • Environmental flows in Colorado River and releases for inflows to Matagorda Bay
  • Evaporation (higher temperatures increase evaporation)
How is our water managed?
  • LCRA manages our water through a water Management Plan that is updated every 5-7 years.
  • LCRA decides how much water they can sell (contract) via water availability modeling to zero inventory, based on last drought of record.
Do we have a real Water Supply problem?
  • The short answer is yes. Demands on the water are rapidly increasing from growth in population and new businesses coming to the area and to Texas.
  • Water supply is falling from several major factors (rainfall patterns are moving east our of our watershed; thousands of ponds have been built in watershed that are capturing and holding up inflows that used to flow into our reservoir lakes; higher temperatures are increasing evaporation; many new groundwater wells are being drilled in our watershed
Is the current path sustainable?
  • No, it’s not. We need changes in water policy and changes in the State Water Codes and NEW Water Supplies.
  • We have less water flowing into our basin. We need much stronger conservation measures.
  • We must make tough choices  on how we use our water supply.
Do we need a flood-like event to recover?
  •  YES! Regular and normal rainfall is no longer capable of refilling our lakes. We need a flood-like event in the right places up in our watershed to provide sufficient inflows to refill our reservoir lakes. Our water management policies need to change to extend our water supply long enough to reach the next flood.

Low Lakes, High Stakes

How bad is our current drought? A full lake is 100%.

Data below is updated as of June 6, 2024.

Lake Buchanan0%
Lake Travis0%

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Fun Facts about the Highland Lakes

What are the Highland Lakes?

There are seven Highland Lakes, part of a series of freshwater lakes in Central Texas along the lower Colorado River. From upstream to downstream, the lakes are Lake Buchanan, Inks Lake, Lake LBJ, Lake Marble Falls, Lake Travis, Lake Austin, and Lady Bird Lake.

Which lakes provide drinking water?

Lake Buchanan and Lake Travis are the reservoirs which provide drinking water for all of Central Texas — over 1.4 million people!

What is the combined length of the Highland Lakes?

The lakes cover an 85-mile expanse from northwest of Austin through Central Austin.

In which counties are the lakes contained?

The Highland Lakes span three Texas counties: Llano, Burnet, and Travis.

How were the lakes created?

The lakes were created by dams built in the 1930s and 1940s.

What is the benefit of these dams?

Central Texas and the Texas Hill Country sit within "Flash Flood Alley," and operation of these dams reduces or eliminates dangerous flooding in the region.

Do the lakes generate power?

The lakes also generate hydroelectric power and capture rainwater.

How do the lakes benefit Central Texas?

In addition to drinking water and hydroelectric power, the lakes supply water for businesses, agriculture, industry and the environment.

Check out the lake levels


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