The Lower Colorado River Authority has lowered Lake LBJ nearly 4 feet for property owners to perform maintenance. Now, the LCRA has said it will attempt to lower the lake another foot in one-inch increments. Staff photo by Jared Fields
STAFF WRITER JARED FIELDS
As expected, Lake LBJ reached its targeted level of 4 feet below normal range early Jan. 9.
However, more water could be slowly taken out of the lake in the coming days by the Lower Colorado River Authority.
After the October flood, the LCRA decided to lower the lake even though it had been drawn down in 2017.
This year, the city of Horseshoe Bay requested the LCRA take up to an additional foot — 5 feet total — out of the lake to help with cleanup and repair following the flood.
The request for the extra foot is “so Horseshoe Bay citizens can clean out and perform maintenance more easily while the lake is down,” according to Horseshoe Bay City Manager Stan Farmer.
The LCRA will now see if the lake can go any lower.
“Once the level of Lake LBJ is lowered four feet, LCRA will evaluate the possibility of continuing to lower the lake in additional one-inch increments (not to exceed 12 inches), while assuring the operation of the Ferguson Power Plant is not impacted,” said Clara Tuma, LCRA public information officer.
At its normal depth, Lake LBJ operates from 824.4 feet to 825 feet above mean sea level. During the drawdown, the lake will be lowered to between 820.2 feet and 820.8 feet mean sea level.
To reach the 5-foot goal, the LCRA would lower the lake inch by inch while ensuring operations continue at the power plant.
And, yes, the LCRA can control the lake level down to the inch.
“Without additional rain or inflows, one hour of hydroelectric generation at one unit at Wirtz Dam has the effect of lowering Lake LBJ roughly 0.36 inches,” Tuma said. “So three hours of generation has the effect of lowering the lake about an inch.”
At a Llano County workshop Jan. 7, Horseshoe Bay Mayor Steve Jordan said the greatest damage in the city was on Applehead Island, where residents have already spent more than $100,000 cleaning up flood debris.
“We’d like to get (the lake level) to 819 feet. With that, it will help us clean things up and get everything back in order,” Jordan said at the meeting.
Lake Marble Falls is in the process of being lowered to its target of 7 feet below normal, which the LCRA expects it to reach by Jan. 12. As of Jan. 9, Lake Marble Falls was about 4.5 feet below normal operating range.