Aug 17, 2022 - News

North Texas lake levels below normal as drought continues

If you're planning to go boating or fishing, check your destination's website to make sure it's open. Photo: Ron Jenkins/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

Lakes across North Texas are experiencing low water levels because of drought conditions.

Why it matters: Dallas-Fort Worth has received just 12.8 inches of rain this year, the eighth lowest on record, according to the National Weather Service's Fort Worth office.

  • Low lake levels have caused boat ramps at some lakes, including Benbrook Lake and Lake Whitney, to close.

Context: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers tracks the water level at dozens of lakes across Texas and tries to keep the water level at each lake within several feet of its conservation pool, which serves water supply, hydropower and recreation.

  • If there is a flood, the Corps has the option to release water and bring down the lake level.
  • In times of drought, lower-than-normal lake levels can expose shorelines and put visitors at risk.

By the numbers: Almost every Texas lake tracked by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is below its conservation pool.

  • Benbrook Lake, in Tarrant County, was 9.5 feet below its conservation pool yesterday.
  • Lake Lavon was 4.3 feet below its conservation pool.

Zoom out: Central Texas' major lakes are doing even worse than our lakes, per an Axios analysis.

  • The amount of water flowing from key rivers and creeks into lakes Travis and Buchanan, the chief reservoirs of Central Texas, is now zero.
  • Tensions are starting to rise along the Colorado River basin over who deserves water most.

What we're watching: This week will bring the highest rain chances we've seen all summer, National Weather Service meteorologist Matt Stalley tells Axios.

Yes, but: Any rain would certainly help, but it likely won't be enough to solve all of our drought woes.

  • Rainfall deficits in some parts of North Texas are between 5 and 15 inches compared to where we should be at this time of year, Stalley said.
  • "Unfortunately, the nature of rain at this time of the year tends to be the hit-or-miss variety. Some people can get a lot and some people don't get any," he said.
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