As lake levels rise due to recent rains, the Lower Colorado River Authority loosened its watering restrictions for Central Texas customers June 3.

Lake Travis and Lake Buchanan, which supply water to over 1.4 million people in the region, reached a combined capacity of 56%—up from 42% capacity recorded on May 1.

What residents should know

The LCRA moved from Stage 2 watering restrictions down to Stage 1 watering restrictions, which allow for twice-a-week outdoor watering and requests a 10% reduction in regular water use, according to a news release.

LCRA customers include cities and utility districts, which can mandate their own watering restrictions in compliance with Stage 1.

The LCRA recommends residents and commercial users check in with their local providers for the most up-to-date restrictions.

Quote of note

“These rains were welcome and it’s good to see our water supply reservoirs at higher levels, but the reservoirs are still stressed from years of drought,” said John Hofmann, LCRA executive vice president of Water, in a statement. “With summer right around the corner, we all need to continue using water wisely and cutting back on discretionary water use.”

Some context

Lakes Buchanan and Travis are part of the chain of Highland Lakes on the Colorado River northwest of Austin. The lakes have provided water to the region since the 1940s, but due to ongoing drought, they have not been at full capacity since July 2019.

LCRA last entered Stage 1 of its drought response in July 2022, according to a spokesperson. Since then, the agency adopted a new Drought Contingency Plan in April 2024 with more stringent conditions for each stage.

Looking ahead

The LCRA issues drought response measures based on the combined water levels of Lake Buchanan and Lake Travis.

Going forward, if drought conditions worsen and combined storage drops to 45% of capacity, the LCRA will return to Stage 2.

If the combined storage reaches 60% of capacity, the LCRA will exit Stage 1.

Hofmann said water consumption typically increases during the hot summer months, and outdoor watering can account for up to 70% of residential water use.

“We can’t control how much it rains or where it rains,” Hofmann said. “The only thing we can control is how much water we use, and each of us has a say in that. We especially can control how much water we put on our yards.”