Drought Conditions Still Causing Problems in the Austin Area

AUSTIN- Despite having above average rainfall so far in 2024, the Austin area is experiencing a 24-inch rainfall deficit since January 2022. With the new summer season getting closer with each day, there is a chance that this summer on the lake is going to be one that no one has seen before.

With extreme temperatures and very little rain, both of the main water reservoirs for Austin, Lake Buchanan and Lake Travis are at some of the lowest points they have ever been at.

Local lakeside businesses, waterfront properties, and even residential areas of Austin have all been impacted by the lack of water in the area. Lakeside businesses are bracing for a slower than usual summer, waterfront properties are losing their value day by day, and the residential areas around the city are having to be mindful of how they go about using their water sources.

How the Drought has Affected Real Estate on Lake Travis

The main reason homebuyers are wanting to buy a home on the lake is so they can have easy access to the lake whenever they want. Since the drought started in 2022, the water level on Lake Travis has dropped by at least 50 feet. Houses that had docks right in their backyard are being forced to see them on dry ground.

Dana Trinkle, a relator in the Austin area, has seen not only house values drop, but has seen less people selling their house, because they won’t get the true value for it.

“For lakes like Lake Travis and Lake Buchanan, which are not constant level lakes, we’ve definitely seen a drop in value for those properties as opposed to when the lake is full,” Trinkle said. “They were waterfront and now they are not, so that’s definitely seen seen a drop in value for those properties.”

The drought has not only affected the housing market, but it has impacted the residential areas surrounding Lake Travis and Lake Buchanan. Local governments are having to enforce watering restrictions to try and conserve as much of their water reservoirs as possible.

“We have seen that affect a lot of propertied that are not lakefront,” Trinkle said. “Because we are in a drought and our water restrictions are pretty heavy. So it’s not just lakefront properties that are seeing a drop in value.”
The average home value for homes in Lakeway, Texas has seen a drop of nearly $200,000 over the past two years.

How the Drought is Affecting Local Economies

For small towns like Burnet & Llano, they depend on Lake Buchanan to help their economies thrive throughout the year. During the summer, Lake Buchanan offers world class fishing guide tours that have been around for generations. Due to the low water levels, those fishing tours have been forced to close down, which has generated in a loss of around $40 million over the past two years.

Shannon Hamilton, Executive Director for the Central Texas Water Coalition, says that because the fishing tours have had to close, hotels & local gas stations and stores have had to close as well.

“I saw an old Residence Inn that people used to rent out and stay in closed down,” Hamilton said. “So that affects tourism, which in turn, affects the local economy.”

How Lake Travis is Dealing with Low Water

Since Lake Buchanan is where Lake Travis gets its water, when Buchanan is struggling, Travis is struggling even more. However, Lake Travis is a little bit bigger, so there is more water to go around.

Charlotte Jacunski, General Manager of Northshore Marina, says that even though they are in one of the deeper spots of Lake Travis, access to the water has gotten harder.

“With our access to the water, we have two trams and one is very steep,” Jacunski said. “Which means like access for larger items or us getting down our beer orders for our ships. For us, getting down like dock boxes and stuff that don’t fit in our smaller tram, it’s been really dangerous it it’s definitely increase in liability for us.”

For other marinas that are not in deeper water, they are constantly having to monitor water levels to make sure they have enough water to keep their tenants boats safe.

Ways to Conserve Water

In an effort to keep our water reservoirs from drying up and causing even more issues for the community, there are many ways to conserve water.

Some examples being:

  • Look into native landscape
  • Take shorter showers
  • Turn the water off when not actively using it

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *