The Lower Colorado River Authority is expanding and enhancing the region’s flood preparedness by adding five stream and river gauges downstream of Austin.
The new gauges will be part of LCRA’s Hydromet – a system of more than 270 automatic weather and river gauges throughout the lower Colorado River basin stretching from the Hill Country to the Gulf Coast. LCRA’s Hydromet, the only monitoring system of its size and scope in Texas, provides near-real-time data to LCRA’s state-of-the art River Operations Center on streamflow, river stage, rainfall totals, temperature and humidity.
Three of the new gauges will be installed between Austin and Bastrop, and two will be placed between Bastrop and Smithville. LCRA tentatively has identified sites for the new gauges along the Colorado River near Webberville, FM 969 and Upton. Data from the new gauges will supplement information from the other 21 gauges between Austin and Smithville.
“These new gauges represent LCRA’s ongoing commitment to the entire Colorado River basin,” said LCRA General Manager Phil Wilson. “The new gauges will provide additional valuable real-time information about how much water is headed down the Colorado River, including the amount of water flowing in from flood-prone tributaries such as Onion Creek.”
The new gauges will provide additional information on river conditions to the National Weather Service, which provides flood forecasts, and local officials responsible for emergency response actions in their communities. Data from the Hydromet is available online at
"Timely information can be the difference between life and death during floods, and these gauges should provide Bastrop County a little solace after a very difficult month," said state Sen. Kirk Watson, who represents Bastrop County and parts of Travis County. "I deeply appreciate that LCRA General Manager Phil Wilson quickly fulfilled his commitment to me and the folks of Bastrop County to install additional flood gauges downstream of Austin."
The new gauges are estimated to cost as much as $300,000 and are expected to be installed within three to six months.
"These additional gauges will provide valuable data to make forecasts of Colorado River flow and crest more accurate," said Bastrop County Judge Paul Pape. "I am grateful to Phil Wilson and the staff at LCRA for their prompt and positive response to our request. Protecting life and property is our shared mission.’’
LCRA built its original Hydromet system of 74 river and weather gauges in the early 1980s. Since then, LCRA has expanded and upgraded the network with more powerful computers and state-of-the-art equipment to transmit Hydromet data over LCRA’s radio system.
LCRA estimates it would take more than $19 million to build a similar system today.
The Hydromet’s rain and stream gauges monitor conditions in more than 14,700 square miles of the Highland Lakes watershed. Downstream of Mansfield Dam, rain and stream gauges monitor conditions in more than 3,632 square miles of the Colorado River’s contributing watershed, including gauges on the main stem of the river at Austin, Bastrop, Smithville, La Grange, Columbus, Altair, Wharton, Lane City, Bay City and Matagorda.
The Lower Colorado River Authority serves customers and communities throughout Texas by managing the lower Colorado River; generating and transmitting electric power; ensuring a clean, reliable water supply; and offering access to nature at more than 40 parks, recreation areas and river access sites along the Texas Colorado River, from the Hill Country to the Gulf Coast. LCRA and its employees are committed to enhancing the lives of Texans through water stewardship, energy and community services. LCRA was created by the Texas Legislature in 1934. The organization neither levies taxes nor receives tax money. For more information, visit
Source: LCRA Business News