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The Ecnomic Impact Of Low Lake Levels

Updated: Saturday, August 3 2013, 04:13 PM CDT

Lake Travis is now at 626.25 feet above sea level, about 40 feet lower than the average.  If that number doesn't mean anything to you, consider this: Lake Buchanan and Lake Travis, Austin's main water source, are right now at 37% of capacity.  And the inflow of water into the lakes is among the lowest in history, about ten percent of average.

The dropping water levels are also bad for business.  A study commissioned by a coalition of local governments, businesses and non-profits has managed to put a dollar figure on the impact of the low lake levels.  When lake levels remain below 660 feet the number of lake visitors declines and businesses are forced to cut back.  We're talking 350,000 to 375,000 fewer park visits and visitor spending shrinks by up to $33 million.  That results in the loss of up to 241 jobs and $6.1 million in wages.

And the smaller numbers of visitors also affect local governments directly.  When lake levels are low the governments lose almost $22 million in total fiscal revenue, $1.7 million in sales tax revenue and $45 thousand in hotel receipts.

For those who say the lake has never been lower, you're wrong   It's happened before ... Twice.  So just hang in there and you should see the lake rise again.

By Fred Cantu

The Ecnomic Impact Of Low Lake Levels

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