Lake Travis is a reservoir on the Colorado River in central Texas, US.
Lake Travis’ historical minimum to maximum water height fluctuation is over 100 feet, serving primarily as a flood-control reservoir. Within a single 24-hour period in 2018, the depth increased by 20 feet. Lake Travis has the biggest storage capacity of the Highland Lakes reservoirs, with 30 square miles of surface area. It spans 65 miles (105 km) upriver from western Travis County (near Lago Vista, Texas) through southern Burnet County to Max Starcke Dam, southwest of the town of Marble Falls. In addition to flood management and water delivery, the lake is utilized for electrical power generation and recreation.
From southeastern Travis County, the Pedernales River, a significant tributary of the Colorado River, pours into the lake.
The reservoir was constructed in 1942 by the Lower Colorado River Authority’s (LCRA) building of Mansfield Dam on the western fringe of Austin, Texas, and was intended primarily to retain floodwaters in a flash-flood prone region. Following a heavy storm in July 1938, the dam’s height was increased during construction to increase floodwater storage capacity.
Service for ferries
Point Venture Development Co. commenced regular scheduled ferry service between Point Venture and the south bank of Hurst Creek in April 1971. The journey took 20 minutes and was Texas’ only inland ferry service at the time.
Sinkings of boats in September 2020
On September 5, 2020, a boat parade in support of Donald Trump took place. According to the Travis County Sheriff’s Office, they got many complaints about boats in peril, and several vessels sank. Although the weather was calm, the boats made tremendous wake when they began to move together, sinking at least five vessels. Following the event, the hashtag #dumbkirk trended on Twitter.
Fishing, boating, swimming, scuba diving, picnicking, camping, and zip line are all popular recreational activities on Lake Travis. Another approved leisure activity at Hippie Hollow Park is naked sunbathing and swimming. This lovely park on the eastern end of Lake Travis is Texas’ first authorized clothes optional park. Lake Travis is often regarded as one of Texas’ purest bodies of water. It is an important source of water for the adjacent city of Austin, Texas, and the surrounding metropolitan region.
Rankings of fatalities
Lake Travis was ranked top in Texas for unintentional fatalities in 2011 and tied for second for overall deaths between 2000 and 2015.
Six persons drowned at Lake Travis in 2018, accounting for six of the 29 total boating deaths documented in Texas that year.
Populations of fish
Lake Travis has been stocked with many fish species in order to increase the reservoir’s usability for recreational fishing. Largemouth bass, guadalupe bass, white bass, striped bass, catfish, and sunfish are among the fish found in Lake Travis.
There were several reports of leeches in Lake Travis in the spring of 2008. Leeches are generally harmless to humans, but they can be bothersome.
The level of the lake
When the lake’s water level is 681 feet (208 meters) above mean sea level, it is considered “full” (at maximum desired capacity) (msl). The flood control gates at Mansfield Dam are opened when the water level rises above 681 feet (208 meters), as directed by the United States Army Corps of Engineers.
The lake’s level can fluctuate dramatically, with a 96-foot difference between its historical high and low depending on the amount of rainfall in the Colorado River basin upstream. On December 25, 1991, the lake’s historic high level was 710.4 feet (216.5 m) above mean sea level, a little less than four feet below the dam’s top/spillway at 714 feet (218 m). On August 14, 1951, the historic low was 614.2 feet (187.2 m) above mean sea level.
The lake reached its fourth lowest level in November 2009, at 626.09 feet (190.83 m) above mean sea level, due to the extreme drought of 2008-2009. On November 8, 1963, the second lowest level was 615.02 feet (187.46 m) above mean sea level. During the Southern United States drought of 2010-13, levels dropped to 618 feet, the third lowest level ever. The LCRA, a public utility whose responsibilities include Lake Travis management, posts water level reports on the internet. The lake reached its full capacity of 681 feet in April 2016.
Lake Travis is the Highland Lake chain’s primary flood control reservoir. The LCRA is in charge of floodgate operations at Mansfield Dam, with advice from the US Army Corps of Engineers. Ideally, this is done after a significant rainfall to either mitigate or completely prevent downstream flooding, which would otherwise be both immediate and severe without the dam’s presence. During major floods, floodgate operations are carried out to protect property around Lake Travis as well as the dam itself.
While the dam’s physical design aids in its own protection during floods, extensive spillway operations, a worst-case scenario that has never occurred in the lake’s history, could undermine the dam’s foundation and compromise 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—in order to prevent the dam from failing catastrophically. At 681 feet above mean sea level, the dam’s total maximum discharge capacity, including its hydroelectric generators but excluding the spillway, is more than 130,000 cubic feet per second (cfs); slightly less than one million gallons per second. As water levels/pressures rise, so do discharge rates.
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