Joe suggested a cruise down the lake to see the Dam. It’s rare to see the basin when the lake is so low – at 627.85′ today. It’s really not a basin anymore. Sometimes Islands are all the way out of the water, and connected to land, so, islands no more. The original river channel winds all the way around them. Windy Point looks more like Windy Acres. And many of the marinas have scooted out to what would normally be the middle of the lake, but is now the edge of the shore.
Monte and I joined Ken and Joe on Prelude for a sail. It was a beautiful day. We had nice breezes on the way down. The closest mile marker to our marina is mile marker 14, and the Mansfield Dam is at, well, mile marker 0. So, round trip was close to about 30 miles.
As we passed the Austin Yacht Club we got to see several of their regattas underway. The shot above is of some of the University of Texas Sailing Team’s Flying Juniors fleet. The 2012 Nationals will be in Austin. So they’re working hard to get ready. Good luck Longhorns!
Here’s a sight we don’t see very often…
And, finally, we snugged up as close as we could to Mansfield Dam. They have a string of bouys in front to keep people from getting too close – which foiled my plan to get a shot of myself touching the dam.
Construction of the Mansfield Dam (originally called Marshall Ford Dam) began in 1937 and was completed in 1941. Mansfield Dam and Lake Travis are the only structures in the Highland Lakes chain specifically designed to contain floodwaters in the lower Colorado River basin. The lake can store as much as 260 billion gallons of water. Some other factoids from the Lower Colorado River Authority website:
Elevation when full: 681 feet above mean sea level (msl)
Volume when full: 1,135,000 acre-feet
Historic high: 710.4 feet above msl on Dec. 25, 1991
Historic low: 614.2 feet above msl on Aug. 14, 1951
Normal operating range: at or below 681 feet above msl
Spillway elevation: 714 feet above msl
Top of dam: 750 feet above msl
The floodgates are at the bottom of the dam and are used to generate electricity and for flood control. The spillway openings are on the right end of the dam in the picture above. Water will start to spill over them at 714′, but it’s never happened… yet. The highest I have seen the lake was 701.5′, which was over the July 4th weekend of 2007. Hard to believe there was ever that much water in the lake.
We had a really lovely sail. A nice Sunday adventure.
I shake my tiny fist at this drought!