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Burnet moves to Stage 3 water restrictions

Private boat dock on receding Lake Buchanan

A private dock on Lake Buchanan is far from water access. The lake’s level has been rapidly dropping since the summer started, and the city of Burnet has taken notice of the deficit. Residents will be under mandatory water use restrictions beginning Aug. 3, when Stage 3 of the city’s drought contingency plan goes into effect. Staff photo by Dakota Morrissiey

The city of Burnet will implement Stage 3 of its drought contingency plan on Thursday, Aug. 3, due to lowering lake levels and continuing scorching temperatures. Residents will be required to stick to a limited outdoor watering schedule while Stage 3 restrictions are in effect.

Residents must limit landscape watering to between 7 p.m. and 10 a.m. Monday through Friday depending on the day that corresponds with the last number of their street address. 

Addresses ending in: 

  • 1 or 2 may water on Mondays
  • 3 or 4 on Tuesdays
  • 5 or 6 on Wednesdays
  • 7 or 8 on Thursdays
  • 9 or 0 on Fridays

“(These restrictions) are something we’ve been looking at internally for the last few weeks,” City Manager David Vaughn told “Whether or not (the restrictions) actually reduce consumption, it’s the right thing to do. I think it’s important that we all do our part.”

Burnet’s Stage 3 restrictions aim to reduce the city’s water use by 20 percent. Violations of the restrictions could result in $50 to $1,000 fines for each instance. 

Burnet’s water comes from a combination of surface and groundwater Vaughn said. Typically, the city receives a 50-50 split of water from a firm water contract with the Lower Colorado River Authority on Inks Lake and a groundwater permit with the Central Texas Groundwater Conservation District on the Ellenburger-San Saba Aquifer. Vaughn noted that the city is on a 60-40 percent surface-to-groundwater split right now due to damage to a well pump that will likely take weeks to repair.

According to Vaughn, the city has the ability to supply all of its residents with either surface water or groundwater in the event that one or the other becomes unavailable.

The LCRA is on the verge of imposing its own Stage 2 drought contingency plan due to dropping water levels in lakes Buchanan and Travis. The combined water storage capacity of the two reservoirs is currently at 48 percent. Stage 2 restrictions will kick in when the combined levels reach 45 percent, which could happen by mid-August, according to LCRA Vice President of Water John Hofmann.

“It’s been a while since we’ve had any rain, and these extreme 100-degree-plus days are taking a toll on all of us,” he stated in an LCRA media release. “With very little water flowing into the lakes and a ‘heat dome’ roasting our area since early June, lake levels are decreasing as significant amounts of water evaporate or are used on landscaping in the region. We all need to step up and do our part to conserve.”

Inks Lake is known as a “run-of-the-river” lake because its storage is maintained by water released upstream from Lake Buchanan. While the water level in Inks is maintained at a somewhat constant level, all water pulled from it has a direct impact on Buchanan’s level, which is the lowest it’s been since 2015.

Groundwater conservation is also being monitored by the Central Texas Groundwater Conservation District, which imposed a mandatory 15 percent reduction on permitted groundwater use in Burnet County in December 2022. The county is also under Stage 4 of the district’s drought management plan, which calls for a 30 percent voluntary reduction of groundwater use.

2 thoughts on “Burnet moves to Stage 3 water restrictions

  1. In the meantime the LCRA continues to release about 1,300 acre feet every day out of Buchanan yet Inks, LBJ & Marble Falls stay full to the brim. How can anybody take the LCRA leadership serious when they say they are enhancing the quality of life of Texans through water stewardship, energy & community service? What they are doing is enhancing the size of their wallet. Water stewardship is a distant afterthought.

    There is no “stewardship”. Stewardship is an ethical value that embodies the responsible planning & management of resources. Yes, their PR department churns out glowing reports but when the water is gone what is the LCRA? I submit they are nothing more than a flock of appointed (anointed & appointed) bureaucrats who have gotten fat, dumb and happy on the backs of taxpayers and Lake Buchanan water.

    We are seeing this fleecing of the “common folk” nationally in a variety of ways with appallingly no regard for the little people. Many of these people have spent their life savings on their dream homes on Buchanan and Travis. The LCRA has killed commerce on these two lakes and helped lower property values at the same time. The LCRA has not lifted a finger to take proper care of Buchanan.

    No dredging of silt that chokes out the Tow area. No removal of thousands of hazards (stumps, trees, etc.) that have made themselves known as the water levels drop and good water is sent downstream. I’ve never seen an LCRA crew out on Buchanan doing any stewardship duties.

    Stewardship? They are literally bleeding our lakes dry. Who puts the LCRA on restrictions?




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