Enjoy all your local news and sports for less than 5¢ per day.

Subscribe Now

Aug. 29 town hall on ‘water problem’

Lake Buchanan, summer 2023

Lake Buchanan has dropped significantly over the summer of 2023, bringing it below 50 percent storage capacity for the first time in eight years and putting it on track to match its level during the devastating drought of 2011. Private and public docks around the lake can no longer access water under current conditions. Staff photo by Dakota Morrissiey

The Central Texas Water Coalition is holding a town hall to discuss the status of local reservoirs and advocate for more conservative management of regional water supplies. The event is 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 29, at Boat Town Burger Bar, 151 Melodie Lane in Kingsland. 

Lake Buchanan is currently 48.9 percent full, according to data from the Texas Water Development Board, and is rapidly dropping. For perspective, the lake was 55.3 percent full a month ago and 62.1 percent full three months ago. In historical context, Buchanan is mirroring trends from the brutal 2011 drought, during which it was at a similar storage level in August of that year and eventually dropped to 38 percent by that December. 

Lake Buchanan is the water supply for the Highland Lakes region and contributes enormous amounts of water to the Austin metro area and agricultural industries near the Texas coast. 

The Central Texas Water Coalition is advocating for more conservative management of the reservoir in light of drought conditions, population growth, and the potential for a hotter, drier climate in the future.

“We will be talking about the low inflows, the current lake levels and combined storage, the population explosion in Central Texas, and the need for a new water supply to sustain us,” coalition Executive Director Shannon Hamilton told “Our August inflows are projected to be the worst on record. We need people to engage and speak out because we have a water problem.”

Lake Buchanan historical levels
A graph from the Texas Water Development Board illustrates where Lake Buchanan’s current water storage stands in historical context. For now, the lake is following a similar pattern to the 2011 drought, which dropped the lake to its lowest level since an all-time low in 1954. TWDB image

About 2 cubic-feet of water per second have been flowing into the Highland Lakes in recent months, exclusively from the Llano River. For context, around 5 acre-feet of water flowed into the Highland Lakes on Aug. 27 compared to 1,004 acre-feet released from Lake Buchanan on the same day. 

The Llano River has become a battleground for water activists since the summer of 2022, when a landowner applied for a permit to build a private dam across its south fork in Edwards County, about 120 miles upstream from the Highland Lakes. Dozens of Highland Lakes residents voiced their objection to the dam at a public meeting on Aug. 10 in Rocksprings. A second public meeting is in the works.

The Tuesday town hall will feature guest speaker Fermin Ortiz of Save Lake LBJ, who helped organize opposition to the South Llano River dam. He is also part of a group against two proposed sand plants and dredging operations on Lake LBJ that are seeking permits from the Lower Colorado River Authority.