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Lake levels are low, but visitors keep on coming

By by Dianna Wray - DWRAY@VICAD.COM
July 23, 2011 at 2:23 a.m.

Lake Texana is one of many areas that is suffering from the drought in Texas. The lake water level is so low that some of the boat docks are closed.

Standing on the edge of a fishing pier, Tyler Carroll, 14, cast his line out over the water and sighed.

Tyler and his family came from West Columbia to spend the weekend fishing on the water, but when they arrived the boat dock was closed because of the drought.

"I think it's not good. We were supposed to go out on a boat," he said.

As the drought continues to hold the state in its grips, the recreational bodies of water in the Crossroads area have noticeably dropped.

In the face of the drought, Lake Texana has receded, pulling back to reveal new shoreline, parched, cracked and creviced from weeks of baking in the sun.

Lake Texana is at 60 percent capacity and about 8 feet below normal levels for this time of year, Lavaca-Navidad River Authority Deputy General Manager Charles Reckaway said.

Park Superintendent Kelley Morris said they have had plenty of visitors to the park, but they have seen a change in their activities. People can't fish from boats, but they're still coming out to fish from the new shoreline of the lake.

Children have also been wading more, Morris said.

Animals have moved farther into the center of the waters, Morris said, but haven't otherwise been affected by the drought.

Morris noted that people who get on the water from other points in the lake need to be cautious. With shallower waters, boaters need to be mindful of getting too close to the shoreline.

Lake Texana is a dammed river, so they also need to watch for stumps and trees in the water, Morris said.

The LNRA sells its water to companies like Formosa. Should the lake's capacity fall to 50 percent or below, conservation plans will be triggered, and the LNRA would have everyone who purchases their water reduce their draw by 10 percent. While they haven't reached those levels yet, Reckaway said they are watching things carefully.

"Hopefully we won't get to that level, but if we do, we'll ask them to reduce their pump rates by 10 percent and to conserve water," Reckaway said. They're being cautious and watching the lake levels closely, Reckaway said.

LNRA has also closed five of the nine boat ramps under its charge because of the fall in the lake level.

The water levels at Coleto Creek reservoir have also fallen significantly. The reservoir is 2.75 feet below the average levels for this time of year, Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority chief operating officer Alan Schneider said.

Coleto Creek Reservoir is used for recreation and to cool the Coleto Creek Power Plant.

The reservoir levels haven't dipped low enough to cause plant officials to be concerned about their ability to cool the plant, Schneider said, but they are watching the receding water carefully.

The boat ramp is still open, but Park Ranger Sam Widmer said boaters need to use caution and remember they are boating in a shallower body of water.

Widmer said they haven't seen any changes in park wildlife. He noted people always need to be cautious with reptiles such as alligators, but the animals tend to avoid loud noises and people.

"They don't like people so they don't hang around our developed area," he said.

There are some benefits to the drought though, Widmer said.

The lower water line has created a small, sandy beach lining the shore. Widmer has seen park visitors using the exposed sandy surface as a small beach.

"It's almost beneficial to the person who comes out here and wants to go swimming, because it gives them a little beach to sit on. I think people actually like that," he said.

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