Track the volume in the Highland Lakes' two water supply reservoirs

As steward of the lower Colorado River, LCRA carefully manages the water in the river and the Highland Lakes. But there are times — during a drought, for example — when there may not be enough water for everyone.

The graphic below shows the current storage level in lakes Buchanan and Travis — the only water supply reservoirs in the Highland Lakes chain. When the water in these lakes drops below specific “trigger points,” some users receive less water.

Numbers are in acre-feet* and change daily.
1.89  million acre-feet
Current Level
1,894,049  Acre-Feet (94%)
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9

Enter numbers in the boxes to change total volume – and learn below how this
may trigger action to curtail water to specific users.

Buchanan  feet above msl
(Enter number between 912, the lake’s level when empty,
and 1,025, the top of Buchanan Dam.)

Travis  feet above msl
(Enter number between 502, the lake level when empty,
and 750, the top of Mansfield Dam.)


Trigger points:  How LCRA prioritizes water during droughts
LCRA's state-approved Water Management Plan is designed to prioritize water during droughts based on the combined storage of lakes Travis and Buchanan. The lower the water drops, the stronger the actions required to limit water use. Follow the link below to see the specifics:

2010 Drought Triggers

Terms to know
*Acre-foot: The amount of water required to cover an area of one acre to a depth of one foot. One acre-foot of water is equal to almost 326,000 gallons.

Drought of record: The decade-long drought that affected Central Texas from the late 1940s through the late 1950s. (See LCRA history.) No other drought in recent history was as sustained. LCRA and other organizations use it as a benchmark to compare recent droughts and to prepare for future droughts.

Firm water: The amount of water lakes Buchanan and Travis could supply during a repeat of the most severe drought on record. Most of this water is committed for use by cities, industries, power plants and protection of aquatic life.

Interruptible water: Water that is available for use on a year-to-year basis, depending on how much water is stored in lakes Travis and Buchanan. Interruptible water is subject to curtailment during water shortages.

Mean sea level (msl): A point of reference to measure lake elevation. It refers to the elevation of the ocean halfway between high and low tide. Lake elevations are measured in feet above mean sea level.

Learn more: Overview: managing the water supply and state preferences |
Water Management Plan
| What happens in a drought? | Water contracts
guarantee supplies even during severe drought
(with pie chart graphic) |
Water conservation

Note on calculations: The volume calculations above are based on the latest hydrological surveys available:


© 1996-2011 Lower Colorado River Authority. All rights reserved.