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Despite Floods, Stage 2 Water Restrictions Remain in Place For Now

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT News
Even though Austin had torrential rains that flooded Lady Bird Lake, water usage restrictions forced by the drought may not be lifted.

The lakes that supply Austin with water - Travis and Buchanan - have risen dramatically over the past few days, but city of Austin officials are not ready to lift water restrictions just yet.

Before this most recent round of rains, the lakes were 39 percent full, combined. Now, they're 55 percent full

The Lower Colorado River Authority's vice president for water, John Hoffman, says they're happy the reservoirs are rising, but they still see it as a glass half empty. 

“In terms of managing the drought, it’s very wet out in the Hill Country right now, but we’ve been very, very dry for a number of years, and it will take some time and several cycles of this activity to fully replenish our supplies," Huffman says.

Austin entered Stage 2 Water Restrictions when the combined storage of the lakes dropped below 900,000 acre-feet, or about 45 percent full. Stage 2 restrictions include one-day-per-week watering, a ban on car washing at home and a requirement that restaurants not serve customers water unless they ask for it. 

For those restrictions to end, the lakes need to have 1.1 million acre-feet of water, which would make them close to 55 percent full. Plus, the LCRA must project that the lakes will not dip below 900,000 acre-feet for at least four months. It's all explained inthe City of Austin's 2012 Drought Contingency Plan

With Austin about to enter the hottest time of the year and the months of highest water usage, the end of Stage 2 restrictions is probably not in the immediate future, but it will be up to Austin City Manager Marc Ott to review.

Nathan Bernier is the transportation reporter at KUT. He covers the big projects that are reshaping how we get around Austin, like the I-35 overhaul, the airport's rapid growth and the multibillion-dollar transit expansion Project Connect. He also focuses on the daily changes that affect how we walk, bike and drive around the city. Got a tip? Email him at Follow him on X @KUTnathan.
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