LAKE TRAVIS is a reservoir on the Colorado River in central
United States . The reservoir was formed in 1942 by the
Mansfield Dam on the western edge of
Austin, Texas by
Lower Colorado River Authority
Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA), and was built specifically
to contain floodwaters in a flash-flood prone region. During its
construction, after a severe flood in July 1938, the height of the dam
was raised to add storage capacity for floodwaters.
Lake Travis has the largest storage capacity of the seven reservoirs
known as the Highland Lakes , and stretches 65 miles (105 km) upriver
from western Travis County in a highly serpentine course into southern
Burnet County to
Max Starcke Dam , southwest of the town of Marble
Falls . The
Pedernales River , a major tributary of the Colorado
River, flows into the lake from the southwest in western Travis
County. The lake is used for flood control, water supply, electrical
power generation, and recreation.
* 1 Recreational uses
* 1.1 Fatality rankings
* 1.2 Fish populations
* 2 Lake levels
* 2.1 Droughts
* 2.2 Floods
* 3 See also
* 4 References
* 5 External links
Lake Travis is well-known for its outdoor recreation opportunities,
including fishing, boating, swimming, scuba diving, picnicking,
camping, and zip lining. Another recreational use, nude sunbathing and
swimming, is permitted in
Hippie Hollow Park . This picturesque park
is located near the eastern end of
Lake Travis and holds the
distinction of being the only legal clothing optional park in Texas.
Lake Travis is generally considered one of the clearest lakes in
Texas. It is a vital water supply for the nearby city of Austin, Texas
and the surrounding metropolitan area.
In ranking lakes in
Texas for accidental fatalities,
Lake Travis was
in first-place in 2011 and tied for second-place for total deaths over
the years 2000-2015.
Lake Travis has been stocked with several species of fish intended to
improve the utility of the reservoir for recreational fishing. Fish
Lake Travis include largemouth bass , guadalupe bass ,
white bass , striped bass , catfish and sunfish .
In spring 2008 there were several reports of leeches residing in Lake
Travis. The leeches are generally harmless to humans but can be a
Lake Travis is considered "full" (at maximum desired capacity) when
the lake's water level is at 681 feet (208 m) above mean sea level
(msl). Above 681 feet (208 m), flood control gates at Mansfield Dam
are opened under the direction of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
The level of the lake can vary dramatically—with an over 96-foot
range between its historical high and low—depending on the amount of
rainfall in the Colorado River basin upstream. The historic high
level on the lake was 710.4 feet (216.5 m) above msl on December 25,
1991, a little less than four feet below the dam's top/spillway at 714
feet (218 m) above msl. The historic low was 614.2 feet (187.2 m)
above msl on August 14, 1951.
The extreme drought of 2008-2009 brought the lake to its fourth
lowest level at 626.09 feet (190.83 m) above msl in November 2009. The
second lowest level was 615.02 feet (187.46 m) above msl on November
8, 1963. During the 2010–13 Southern
United States drought , levels
went as low as 618 feet, making it the third lowest level ever. The
LCRA , a public utility whose responsibilities include the management
of Lake Travis, makes water level reports available on the internet.
In April 2016, the lake returned to its full capacity at 681 ft.
Lake Travis serves as the primary flood control reservoir of the
Highland Lake chain. The LCRA, under advisement from the U.S. Army
Corps of Engineers, is responsible for floodgate operations at
Mansfield Dam. Ideally, this is done in a time-delayed fashion after a
major rainfall so as to either mitigate or outright prevent downstream
flooding which otherwise would have been both immediate and extreme
without the dam's presence. As
Lake Travis levels increase during
major floods, floodgate operations are conducted to protect property
Lake Travis as well as the dam itself.
While the dam's physical design assists in its own protection during
floods, extensive spillway operations, a worst-case scenario which has
not happened in the lake's history, could undermine the dam's base and
affect its overall integrity. Under such conditions, operations are
primarily intended to protect the dam, and lake water may be released
to the dam's full, 24-floodgate capacity—regardless of downstream
effects—to prevent the catastrophic loss of the dam. Including its
hydroelectric generators but not the spillway, at 681 feet above msl
the dam's total maximum discharge capacity is more than 130,000 cubic
feet per second (cfs); a bit under one million gallons per second.
Rates of discharge increase as water levels/pressures increase.
Lake Travis High School
Lake Travis High School
* ^ http://floodstatus.lcra.org/
* ^ http://www.lcra.org/asklcra/AskLCRAAnswers.html?cat_id=481
* ^ http://www.lcra.org/water/dams/mansfield.html
* ^ http://www.golaketravis.com/waterlevel/
* ^ The lake rose to 642.39 feet above msl as of October 25, 2009
due to significant rains in September and October 2009. This places
the level at 24 feet below normal level for October. "River Report"
* ^ http://www.lcra.org/water/conditions/river_report.html
* ^ Current LCRA lake and river conditions