Central Texas continues in severe drought



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Posted on December 3, 2012 at 7:13 PM

Updated Tuesday, Dec 4 at 11:43 AM

TRAVIS COUNTY -- November went down as the driest in history since 1897 as Central Texas is considered two years into an historic drought.

The Lower Colorado River Authority has once again asked the state for emergency drought relief, which if granted, would allow them to supply less water from its Highland Lakes to downstream farmers than required by the state. It would be the second year in a row to get such relief.

Low lake levels are blamed on the drought. 

Boater Jimmy Russell has been using Lake Travis since 1985. "Overall the last three or four years, it's really been down a lot," he said.

He says the highs and lows affect business. "A lot of restaurants that do a lot of business during summer have closed."

Low levels also affect people at home and their residential restrictions. The Austin Water Authority watches the combined levels of Lake Travis and Lake Buchanan.

Austin Water Spokesperson Jason Hill says water usage is another factor but that people have been very mindful of conservation.

"We are advocating to keep as much water in those lakes as possible because of this extreme drought that we're going through," Hill said.

Another issue is that December is typically one of the driest months. KVUE Meteorologist Albert Ramon says if we continue in this pattern, the mid-month cedar season could be severe.

"Cedar season is usually tamed down when we have a high amount of water in the air, whether it be humidity or rainfall," Ramon said.

Rain isn't just needed in the Austin area, but across Texas to fill feeders into the lakes. The Pedernales, which flows into Lake Travis, appears low.

Between both lakes Travis and Buchanan, they're down 42 percent. Further water use restrictions would take place if these levels drop another half.

Austin is currently in Stage 2 restrictions. Click here for restriction guidelines.