Lake drawdown - Dec. 30 to Feb. 2 - to launch lakeside maintenance



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Shiloh Ribera/Special to The Highlander
Scott Ross of Boats, Batteries and Slips, began work Dec. 27 at a lakeside residence on Lake LBJ. A number of contractors in the shoreline structure construction and maintenance industry expect to see an uptick in business when the Lower Colorado River Authority lowers lakes LBJ and Marble Falls starting Sunday, Dec. 30. The drawdown is expected to last several weeks to allow for dredging and debris removal as well as accommodate work on retaining wal






By Connie Swinney
Staff Writer

An upcoming lake drawdown will provide an economic boost for the construction industry, as crews and heavy equipment descend on lakes LBJ and Marble Falls.

The Lower Colorado River Authority is scheduled to lower the waterways for an eight-week period starting Sunday Dec. 30 and ending Saturday, Feb. 23. Lake LBJ will be lowered 4 feet; 1 foot per day for the first four days. The Lake Marble Falls drawdown involves a 7-foot drop in the waterway's normal level; 1 foot per day for the first seven days.

“Your lumber stores, they're going to have sales of people wanting to reinforce or build,” said Scott Ross of Boats, Batteries and Slips. Ross primarily does hydraulic power-pack installations and frequently works along-side other businesses in the lakeside structure construction industry.

“There will be some retaining wall repairs for those who can get equipment and access,” he said. “Welders, if they can get their equipment, to the back of the house, it will be a boom for them because they can do some repairs they can't access when the lake is up.

“Landscapers do well because of debris removal.”

In some area, a drawdown can widen the beach front by 150 yards, Ross said. Communities affected in the Lake Marble Falls drawdown include Channel Oaks, Cottonwood Shores, Meadowlakes and Los Escondidos as well as Marble Falls. On Lake LBJ Granite Shoals, Horseshoe Bay, Kingsland, Sandy Harbor and Sunrise Beach are among communities affected.

“You'll have some crews that will change gears and rent equipment or a bunch of homeowners who will get together and rent equipment,” he said.

According to LCRA officials a permit is not required for dock repairs, but property owners must adhere to the entity's Safety Standards for Residential Docks on the Highland Lakes. However, LCRA does require registration under the LCRA's umbrella permit with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Also, residents should beware that individual municipalities may have restrictions or parameters involving new construction.

“Homeowners have to be careful not to cross that line,” Ross said. “You can do repair by replacement without a permit. If you do a complete rebuild or change the footprint of your structure, you have to get approval.”

The upcoming drawdown, which occurs periodically through the years, is unusual because it comes on the heels of a 2017 lowering, LCRA officials said.

"We were not planning to lower Lake LBJ again this soon because it was just lowered in 2017, but after the flood it's clear property owners needed an opportunity to remove debris and repair their property," John Hofmann, LCRA executive vice president, stated in a press release. "We are hopeful the drawdown will assist in flood recovery and help get 2019 off to a good start."

A flood event Oct. 16 caused millions of dollars in damage to lakeside structures, recreational equipment, deposited tons of debris and temporarily displaced hundreds of people. Much of the cleanup began after the waters subsided, but the drawdown is expected to allow municipalities, subdivisions and private property owners to assess submerged damage, dredge sandy deposits and clear more debris.

To register go online at or call 512-578-2324. Property owners or representatives can also register in person from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday at the LCRA Western Maintenance Facility, 2643 Wirtz Dam Road in Cottonwood Shores.

LCRA officials say they could end the drawdown in the event of floods or utility emergencies. Lake LBJ serves as a “cooling reservoir” for the Ferguson Power Plant in Horseshoe Bay.

Officials caution residents to avoid leaving equipment and tools in the lake unattended and to remove them when not in use. Burning debris in the lakebed is prohibited.

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