New year 2015 has gotten off to a promisingly wet start. Better yet, 2014 was one of the rainiest years Austin has seen in several years. But a recent report in the Austin Statesman suggests that residents mingle optimism with caution.
Though the city has received higher-than-average rainfall since the start of last year, the major reservoirs on which Central Texas relies remain about 66% below capacity. That’s because the amount of water that has flowed into the Highland lakes from streams and tributaries since the start of 2014 has been at a near record low.
The result? Lakes Travis and Buchanan, the main sources of water for the over one million Central Texas (including those living in Austin), are still at just over one third full. So while the lakes are not losing water, they also aren’t gaining any back.
But there’s hope. The federal Climate Prediction Center (CPC) has issued a forecast that calls for above-normal precipitation over the next three months. Meteorologists are predicting that the weather phenomenon known as El Niño will be especially active this winter. And when that happens, Texas typically receives heavier than normal rainfall.
In the meantime, Austin Water is attempting to delay further water restrictions for as long as it can. One way has been to hold water conservation workshops for residents. The more water Austinites can manage to save each day, the longer they can continue being able to water their lawns.