A few years ago, I created a a video about my journey to the Sometimes Islands on Lake Travis, near Austin, Texas. These islands are only visible when the lake waters are low, such as during the terrible drought that we’ve been having. You shouldn’t be able to walk to these islands from Mansfield Dam Park, but I did.
How has the Lake Travis water level changed?
Lake Travis is considered full at 681 feet above sea level. Here are the historic high and low lake water levels:
- December 25, 1991, was the historic high at 710.4 feet (+29.4 feet above full)
- August 14, 1951, was the historic low at 614.2 feet (-66.8 feet below full)
Water level when I made the Terrible Texas Drought Reveals Sometimes Islands on Lake Travis video:
- November 2011 average was 626.52 feet (-54.48 below full).
Water level today:
- September 13, 2014, shows a water level of 622.97 feet (-58.03 feet below full)
Wow! The water level is -3.55 feet lower now than when I made my video in the fall of 2011. We rely on Lake Travis for our drinking water in Central Texas, and the lake is only 33% full!
- Get the latest Lake Travis water level
- Map: U.S. Drought Monitor for Texas
- Video: Texas drought 2011 scorches McKinney Falls
Lake Travis Underwater and Shoreline Cleanup
The lower lake levels reveal a lot about Lake Travis, including tree stumps from submerged forests and structures that used to be hidden underwater. I also saw a lot of pioneer plants that started growing on the islands. Unfortunately, I saw a lot of trash too.
Thankfully, the Colorado River Alliance, Keep Austin Beautiful, and Travis County Parks have been organizing volunteers for 20 years to help clean up Lake Travis, both above and below the water.
Their Lake Travis Underwater and Shoreline Cleanup 2014 event is tomorrow, Sunday, September 14, 2014, and there’s still time to register to be an underwater or shoreline volunteer at the Keep Austin Beautiful website.
You’ll make a difference to our native ecosystem (an average of 5 tons of trash are cleaned up each year!) and they have a fantastic Thank You party with free t-shirts, food, and door prizes at the Oasis afterwards. It’s a great event for all ages!