JUST IN: LCRA will not open more gates at Mansfield Dam at this time

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Update 10:24 a.m. Oct. 18

Four floodgates remained open at Mansfield Dam on Thursday. The Lower Colorado River Authority said it will not need to open additional floodgates at Mansfield Dam Thursday, though it is possible they will open up to four additional gates over the next few days, according to an LCRA press release.

Lake Travis rose 2 feet between 9:30 p.m. Wednesday and 9:30 a.m. Thursday, the release said, adding that Lake Travis is well into its flood pool and is projected to rise to between 705 to 710 feet above mean sea level by Friday.

Community Impact Newspaper will continue to update this story.

Original post

Four more flood gates could open at Mansfield Dam in the next 24 hours, which could bring flooding conditions for residents along Lake Austin, Lady Bird Lake and beyond.

At a livestreamed press conference Wednesday afternoon, Lower Colorado River Authority General Manager Phil Wilson said people living along Lake Austin should prepare for rising waters.

“Make sure you’re taking care of yourself and your family,” Wilson said. “This is a historic flood. Just because it’s not raining [in Austin]right now, there is a lot of water that is north of here, or northwest of here, and it’s coming our way.”

Lake Travis gained 21 feet of water from noon Tuesday to noon Wednesday. In the last week, Wilson said, Lake Travis has captured more water than the city of Austin would use in four years.

Lake Buchanan has eight of its 37 flood gates open and may need more, Wilson said.

Wilson said Lake Travis could rise even more with additional gates open.

The Mansfield Dam has 24 flood gates. As of 1 p.m., Lake Travis was 19 feet into the flood pool and rising. Six gates were used to relieve lake pressure in 1957, while five were opened during floods in 1991. During this flooding event, where the Hill Country received more than 10 inches of rain in two days, the fourth gate opened at 7 p.m. Tuesday, allowing a total 1.2 million gallons of water per minute to pass through the dam.

“The sheer volume of water was extraordinary,” Wilson said. “This is a dynamic situation that will continue for days. There is a long way to go.”

The National Weather Service is predicting rain in the Hill Country and Austin through Saturday.

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  1. The Stewart’s have lived on Lake Travis since it was created. My dad’s family owned hundreds of acres with pecan orchards, goat and sheep herds and some cotton fields which is now under Lake Travis everyday. The Lakeway Park still has old rock barriers for herd control visible when waters are low. Other family members owned marinas in the Hurst Creek area in the 50’s and 60’s. We have experienced, to some degree, ALL the floods to date and a tornado on the lake over the years. The lake was initially built for one purpose – to protect Austin. As impressive and dangerous as this flood is, its nothing extraordinary or new. People living and building around the 690 level should expect overnight flooding and not be shocked or surprised when the “flood lake” performs its purpose. Better lake warnings, rules, and building restrictions should be implemented if people think this flood is something new or unforeseen. I hope everyone is safe and healthy today and in future flooding situations.

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Joe Warner
Joe Warner is managing editor of the nine Austin-Central Texas editions of Community Impact Newspaper. He previously served as senior editor of the flagship Round Rock, Pflugerville and Hutto newspaper. He came to Central Texas from Metro Detroit, where he was editor and general manager of several daily and weekly publications. He is the former president of the Michigan Press Association and was on the MPA board of directors for nine years.
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