Updated Oct. 25 at 10:20 a.m.
The Lower Colorado River Authority announced Thursday morning that Lakes Inks, LBJ, Marble Falls and Travis will remain closed through Tuesday at least due to debris and unsafe conditions caused by recent flooding.
The National Weather Service Austin projects a sunny weekend with highs in the mid-80s.
However, an LCRA spokesperson said that the possibility of flooding from additional rainfall remains high because the lakes are full and soil through the Highland Lakes watershed is saturated.
LCRA will reevaluate conditions on Tuesday to determine when the lakes will be reopened.
Property owners are allowed on the lakes during this time for the limited purposed of recovering of securing damaged property from the recent flood, per LCRA. Boating remains dangerous, and time on the lakes should be minimized.
Lake Buchanan will reopen to the public at noon on Friday.
Four floodgates remain open at Mansfield Dam as LCRA discharges water from the flood pool at Lake Travis, which is now falling about 2 feet per day.
Without additional rain, LCRA expects the floodgates to remain open through early November.
Updated Oct. 24 at 6 p.m.
Today’s rain was less than initially projected, so it is unlikely LCRA will have to open any additional floodgates along the Highland Lakes Wednesday night, a press release said. Four floodgates remain open at Mansfield Dam as LCRA discharges water from the flood pool at Lake Travis. LCRA expects the four floodgates to remain open through at least the end of the month, the release said.
Updated Oct. 24 at 10 a.m.
All floodgates at Buchanan, Wirtz and Starcke dams are now closed, the LCRA said in a press release Wednesday morning.
However, there is rain in the forecast Wednesday for much of the upper basin of the Colorado River watershed, the release said, adding that depending on where the rain falls, there is a possibility LCRA will need to re-open floodgates at one or more of the dams to move floodwater downstream.
People near all dams along the Highland Lakes should stay alert to changing conditions and be ready to take action to protect people and property, the release said.
Updated Oct. 22 at 4 p.m.
Lakes Buchanan, Inks, LBJ, Marble Falls and Travis will remain closed until at least Thursday, Oct. 25, a press release from the Lower Colorado River Association said. The LCRA will evaluate lake conditions again on Thursday and determine when each lake will be reopened.
Property owners may access the lakes for the limited purpose of recovering or securing damaged property from the recent flood, if the property location is known, the release said.
The rising level of Lake Travis is slowing for now, but Lower Colorado River Authority officials warn the situation is far from over.
“We’re a ways away from being through this event,” LCRA Executive President of Water John Hofmann said during a media interview Friday. Hoffman added that right now, due to predicted elevated rainfall through Saturday, his main focus is the weather.
Though levels throughout the Highland Lakes chain are not rising rapidly like they were midweek, impending rains over the weekend coupled with another rain event predicted for Monday mean the levels are far from stabilized for the long run.
“We’re in a pretty good place, but we’re anxiously watching the rainfall that might come because the watershed is already very saturated, particularly upstream of Lake Travis,” Hofmann said. “If we get meaningful amounts of heavy rainfall up there, it could cause pretty instantaneous flooding.”
Today the lakes have seen about a half inch to an inch of rainfall, which is not meaningful in terms of flooding, Hofmann said, emphasizing that that could change depending on coming rains.
Floodgate operations have reduced in the passthrough lakes, Hofmann said. Only two gates are open at the Buchanan Dam right now, and the Wertz and Max Starcke dams are also in reduced gate operations.
More water is still coming into Mansfield Dam than is going out, so only four gates remain open there and LCRA is not looking to open more at this point, he said.
“Really that’s kind of where I see us being for the immediate, foreseeable future until the weather comes in and changes that,” he said, adding that Lake Travis levels should remain at between 704 and 706 feet for now.
Hofmann also pointed out that once the rains let up for a longer period, it will still take weeks for Lake Travis to draw back down.
“But if nature brings more water into the picture then it changes the whole scenario,” he said.