curved box top


blue top

blue line


Lake Travis Water Level

   updated 10:00 PM


blue bottom


blue top

Lake Travis Webcam

blue bottom


blue top

blue bottom


Contact Go Lake Travis

Drought hurting Lake Travis businesses

Posted: Tue, 18 Oct 2011 09:22 AM - 6,296 Readers

By: Gary Dinges


Carlos 'n Charlie's is a favorite stop for boaters in search of a burger and beer, but getting there these days is a bit of a challenge.

At 628.37 feet, Lake Travis was almost 40 feet below October's historical average of 666.20 feet and slowly falling late Monday afternoon, the Lower Colorado River Authority reported.

That's bad news for lake-dependent business owners who have taken a big hit this year.

Pete Clark, owner of Carlos 'n Charlie's and a related business, Just for Fun Watercraft Rental, said almost 40 percent of his customers are boaters. With waterfront businesses getting harder to reach, he estimates gross revenue is down 20 to 30 percent.

"I can't even imagine how devastating it will be if the drought continues," he said. "You would have no businesses out here."

With fewer amenities to choose from, many tourists decided not to visit Lake Travis this summer, said Lake Travis Chamber of Commerce President Laura Mitchell.

"The sweet spot on the lake is 660 feet," she said. "When we get below 660 feet, we start to see tourism suffer."

A recent report from the Lake Travis Coalition, a group of cities adjacent to the lake, shows just how serious things can get when the lake falls below 660 feet.

Annual visitor spending drops by as much as $33.8 million from the norm of $90.5 million. As many as 241 jobs are lost, accounting for $6.1 million in lost wages. Sales tax revenue dips $1.7 million. Hotel receipts decrease by $45,000. Mixed drink sales fall $120,000. Park visits are reduced by as many as 375,000 per year.

Those figures have very real consequences for communities such as Lakeway.

"The city of Lakeway is fundamentally a lake community and derives its very existence from its location on Lake Travis," Mayor David DeOme said. "If lake levels keep falling, a serious future impact will be the loss of property tax base."

Mitchell shares DeOme's concerns.

"Less money is being pumped into the economy," she said. "The dollars just aren't there."

That's the case at the Shores on Lake Travis, which offers vacation rentals primarily to out-of-towners.

"People learn about the drought and say, 'I've got to stay away,'" General Manager Daniel Garza said. "They hear the negative stuff and get discouraged."

Typical summertime occupancy is 90 percent or higher, he said, but this year it has hovered at 60 to 70 percent.

"When people call, they'll ask us, 'How is the lake?'" Garza said. "We tell them there are things to do even though it's low. The lake is accessible. It's usable."

The story's the same at Lakeway Marina.

"During August, boat rental revenues fell off a cliff due to press coverage of the low lake levels, and waterfront restaurants and other businesses were forced to lay off waitresses and dockhands due to lack of business," said Janet Caylor, the marina's principal owner. "Convenience stores, gas stations and lake-area businesses all suffered due to low visitations."

Mitchell, Caylor and others say the Lower Colorado River Authority made matters worse by sending water to farmers downstream.

"Some businesses did not make it to the Fourth of July because they had to relocate to remote areas or unplug their electrical equipment," Caylor said. "Others had never recovered from the summer of 2009 (drought), and these water management policies were their death toll."

LCRA spokeswoman Clara Tuma told the American-Statesman on Monday that the agency is seeking state approval to curtail or stop sending water to downstream farmers next spring if extreme drought conditions persist.

"LCRA balances the competing interests that depend on the Highland Lakes and the lower Colorado River through its state-approved water management plan," Tuma said.

"Over the last year, a committee of stakeholders from up and down the river have been studying the complexities of the water management plan, and the LCRA board is poised to recommend wide-ranging changes in the plan to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, which must approve any changes to the existing plan."

"It's imperative that our interests are being looked at," Mitchell said. "There's a significant economy out here that needs to be recognized."

Even though business is down at Lakeway Marina and Carlos 'n Charlie's because of low lake levels, owners of both businesses say expenses are up.

Clark has had to extend his docks 600 feet because of the retreating water.

"We'll move 50 feet, then two weeks later, we'll have to go another 50 feet," he said.

Business was flat this season at Shore Club Volente Beach's water park, but owner Rick Redmond isn't complaining.

"We actually had a decent season," he said. "I was open fewer days, but revenue was about the same. We're pretty happy."

Redmond said the park is adjacent to one of the deepest parts of Lake Travis, making it immune to most of the drought's effects.

"We're fine," he said. "If you already have a boat on the lake, it's no problem."

But Redmond is a rare exception.

Caylor is optimistic that things will turn around. Enjoying the lake this fall is "worth the hike," she said.

Clark is holding out hope, as well.

"On several occasions I've seen this lake come up 20 to 25 feet in 24 hours," he said. "We're just praying for rain in the right spot."


*  Story Contributed by: Gary Dinges



[edit]



Lake Travis News


How Zebra Mussels Will Change Austin Lakes (And Maybe Barton Springs) Forever

Aug 17, 2017

1,465 Readers

Man seriously injured after 20 to 30 foot fall from cliff at Lake Travis

Aug 13, 2017

1,117 Readers

Lakeway City Park adds life jacket loaner station

Aug 11, 2017

867 Readers

Boater dies after hitting Lake Travis shoreline

Aug 1, 2017

1,269 Readers

No serious injuries after plane crashes into water at Lake Travis

Jul 22, 2017

1,250 Readers

Man injured in 30-foot fall over rocks at Hippie Hollow

Jul 15, 2017

958 Readers

Tow boat owner says plane wheels were down when it flipped into lake

Jul 13, 2017

1,108 Readers

Lady Bird Lake vegetation at risk after ‘mass migration’ of carp

Jul 11, 2017

906 Readers

Lake Travis ‘infested’ with invasive, damaging zebra mussels

Jun 27, 2017

999 Readers

Scuba divers scoop for lake trash after Memorial Day festivities

May 30, 2017

1,788 Readers

Here’s why you can’t swim in Lady Bird Lake. Wait — you can’t swim in Lady Bird Lake?

Aug 8, 2017

1,136 Readers

5 Ways to Try Paddleboarding in Austin

Aug 4, 2017

996 Readers

Why Is Hippie Hollow Clothing-Optional?

Jul 31, 2017

1,222 Readers

JAWS on the Water - Friday, June 30th

Jun 27, 2017

1,753 Readers

Memorial Day Weekend watercraft ban on Lake Austin

May 25, 2017

1,879 Readers

Travis County officials prep for Memorial Day weekend on Lake Travis

May 23, 2017

1,683 Readers

West Austin 4-H Offers Opportunities Beyond Just Raising Animals

Aug 9, 2016

7,436 Readers

Large Crowds Expected at Lake Travis For Holiday Weekend

Jul 1, 2016

9,272 Readers

Lady Bird Lake businesses back open for Father’s Day

Jun 19, 2016

6,875 Readers

Boats allowed back on Lady Bird Lake starting noon Thursday

Jun 16, 2016

7,611 Readers

Lake Buchanan rises nearly 8 inches due to rain

Aug 8, 2017

1,420 Readers

One floodgate open at Starcke Dam

Aug 7, 2017

1,256 Readers

Driving on RM 620, I see islands sticking out of the lake. Is the drought returning?

Jul 14, 2017

1,805 Readers

West Travis Co. residents clean up after heavy storms

Apr 3, 2017

2,327 Readers

WATCH | Possible tornado/water spout spotted on Lake Travis

Apr 3, 2017

2,913 Readers

Aerosols Strengthen Storm Clouds, According to New Study

Jun 14, 2016

7,336 Readers

National Weather Service : Why You Shouldn’t Drive During a Flood

Jun 10, 2016

7,444 Readers

LCRA will be in flood management mode for coming weeks

Jun 4, 2016

7,799 Readers

How high could Lake Travis rise near Austin?

Jun 3, 2016

7,766 Readers

LCRA stands ready as more rain is expected in Central Texas

Jun 2, 2016

8,281 Readers

City looking for help to curb storm drain pollution

Aug 5, 2017

1,216 Readers

Apache Shores features waterfront views, trails, park

Jul 14, 2017

1,013 Readers

10-year Mansfield Dam rehabilitation project will keep Austin safe

Apr 27, 2017

929 Readers

Overflowing Lake Travis isn't all bad news for businesses

Jun 8, 2016

7,184 Readers

Lake Travis High School Graduation cut short

Jun 8, 2016

7,773 Readers

A full Lake Travis boosts local businesses

May 26, 2016

7,197 Readers

Texas lake businesses booming again after long drought

May 12, 2016

9,070 Readers

Lakeway’s Schmidt Family Barbecue restaurant to shutter its doors by fall

May 11, 2016

7,333 Readers

Lake Travis Fire Rescue begins fleet overhaul

May 6, 2016

8,090 Readers

Gnarly Gar fighting to stay in new building on Lake Travis marina

Apr 19, 2016

4,806 Readers

Modern guesthouse tower adds space, views to lakeside cabin

Sep 28, 2017

729 Readers

A Striking Sanctuary in Texas Inspired by a Sand Dollar

Aug 8, 2017

1,056 Readers

Contemporary Architectural Masterpiece on Lake Austin

Jul 30, 2017

1,063 Readers

Lake Austin mansion with a Romeo and Juliet balcony, including dramatic backstory

Jul 28, 2017

842 Readers

Midcentury-modern home overlooks Lake Austin, Pennybacker Bridge

May 27, 2016

7,087 Readers

Lake Travis Waterfront Retreat Offered by Heritage Luxury Real Estate Auctions

May 18, 2016

7,374 Readers

In Lago Vista, big dreams for $68 million ranch property

May 14, 2016

7,438 Readers

This Texas Barn Mansion on Lake Travis is Out of This World

May 6, 2016

8,660 Readers

Rockmoor Estate $35 million Austin mansion up for sale

Apr 19, 2016

4,548 Readers

Windy Point is for sale!

Jan 13, 2016

5,760 Readers



News Archives 2011 - Select a Month

« December 2010  

January 2012 »  




bottom