Lake Waco reaches fifth lowest water level ever recorded

Tied with 2011 water level at 454.82 area-feet
Published: Jul. 12, 2022 at 6:30 PM CDT|Updated: Jul. 12, 2022 at 11:58 PM CDT
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) - Water levels in Lake Waco are inching towards record lows and water conservation restrictions go into effect July 13 for the City of Waco with enforcement beginning on August 1.

“All this green vegetation is normally under water,” said Lake Waco Manager Mike Champagne as he pointed to vegetation standing up to seven feet out of the water.

“As it sits right now, we’re almost 7.25 [feet] low,” Champagne said, referring to the drop in water level.

Lake Waco’s water elevation is 454.82, and it’s estimated to lose 0.01 foot per hour.

Of course, point zero one might not sound bad when you put it that way, but when you look at the big picture, Lake Waco is currently losing up to 150 million gallons of water daily due to evaporation and residential usage.

“All the water we’ve got is what we’ve got. We’re not really getting anything in from the bosque, which is our primary water shed. Unless we get quite a bit of rain in the water shed, we’re not going to see water levels go up,” Champagne said.

Record breaking temperatures and little rain fall will only speed up the rate at which water disappears from the lake.

This time last year, Lake Waco was at 100 percent capacity. On Tuesday, it was at 70 percent capacity, which ties it for fifth lowest lake level ever with 2011.

“I believe in 2011 we were around this level. The other time would’ve been around 2003, when we did the pool rise.”

It’s not so settling to know that those record-breaking lows didn’t occur until later months like October and even December.

Champagne said, “being this low at this time of the year, obviously we’re a little earlier than normal so we’re going to continue to see lake levels drop if we don’t get any relief. That could mean more park closures that could mean more hazards on the water for boaters and swimmers.”

During 2011, McLennan County faced severe drought symptoms only seeing 11 inches of rain between January and July for the entire year. So far in 2022, we’ve seen a little over 8 inches.

If the current trend continues, 2022 is on track to becoming the second-lowest recorded year for Lake Waco’s water level since 1959.

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