Lake Travis is a reservoir on the Colorado River in central Texas in the United States. The reservoir was formed in 1942 by the construction of Mansfield Dam on the western edge of Austin, Texas by the Lower Colorado River Authority. Lake Travis has the largest storage capacity of the seven reservoirs known as the Highland Lakes, and stretches 65 miles (105 km) upriver from western Travis County in a highly serpentine course into southern Burnet County to Max Starcke Dam, southwest of the town of Marble Falls. The Pedernales River, a major tributary of the Colorado River, flows into the lake from the southwest in western Travis County. The lake is used for flood control, water supply, electrical power generation and recreation.The other reservoirs on the Colorado River are Lake Buchanan, Inks Lake, Lake LBJ, Lake Marble Falls, Lake Austin, and Lady Bird Lake.
Because of its volume, the lake serves as the primary flood control reservoir of the Highland Lake chain. The level of the lake can therefore vary dramatically, depending on the amount of rainfall in the Colorado River basin upstream. Despite this, the lake furnishes one of the most desired locations in the region for outdoor recreation, including fishing, boating, swimming, scuba diving, picnicking and camping. Lake Travis is generally considered one of the clearest lakes in Texas. It is a vital water supply for the nearby city of Austin, Texas and the surrounding metropolitan area.
Lake Travis has been stocked with several species of fish intended to improve the utility of the reservoir for recreational fishing. Fish present in Lake Travis include largemouth bass, guadalupe bass, white bass, striped bass, catfish and sunfish. In spring 2008 there were several reports of leeches residing in Lake Travis. The leeches are generally harmless to humans but can be a nuisance.
Lake Travis is considered "full" (at maximum desired capacity) when the lake's water level is at 681 feet (208 m) above mean sea level (msl). Above 681 feet (208 m), flood control gates are opened under the direction of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The historic high level on the lake was 710.4 feet (216.5 m) above msl on December 25, 1991. The historic low was 614.2 feet (187.2 m) above msl on August 14, 1951. The extreme drought of 2008-2009 brought the lake to its third lowest level at 629.97 feet (192.01 m) above msl on September 11, 2009. The second lowest level was 615.02 feet (187.46 m) above msl on November 8, 1963.
© Marc McKinney Photography