Austin: A City of Water Extremes

July 18, 2015  | By Shoal Creek Conservancy

drought980Depending on who you ask, many experts believe the drought in Central Texas is over. Data from the US Drought Monitor in July (illustrated above) suggests conditions in Travis County have returned to normal after years of “extreme” dryness. The 2015 spring rains not only replenished water levels in nearby lakes, but they have also sparked a number of water management initiatives here in Austin, impacting life in the Shoal Creek watershed: A City-led flood mitigation task force is being convened to recommend solutions to flood issues and the conversation about a Shoal Creek flood control tunnel is heating up just to name a couple. Water has once again reached the front page, but this time for its bounty and not stark absence.

At Shoal Creek Conservancy, our work and focus has shifted following these events. We now have a closer relationship with the City of Austin on the issue of flooding and have realized the importance of our role as a liaison between the City and the public in times of high flood risk.

Lake Travis hasn’t been at capacity since early 2008, but with the lake 85% full as recently as July 17th, and heavy rain predicted to continue throughout the year, the lake level could reach capacity soon. When this happens, the milestone would mark a physical and yet symbolic renewal, a chance for Austin to position itself as a leader in water management and management of extremes. We look forward to our Conservancy playing a key role in this and working to make Shoal Creek the world’s best watershed.