• July 25, 2014

Geological website helps track local lake levels

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Posted: Saturday, May 26, 2012 12:00 pm

By Jann Dworsky

Special to the Daily Herald

Perhaps my husband and I are just easily entertained, but we have had fun watching the water level in Belton Lake. It began when we received that 2-inch rain in January and watched the lake level come up a whole foot.

Curiosity leads to many discoveries, and my husband found a website run by the U.S. Geological Survey to see the water level readings from the lake every 15 minutes.

On Jan. 20, the lake level was 581.79 feet. Seven days later, the lake was up nearly a foot to 582.71. After the drought we had this past summer with all the water shortage problems, this seems like a good number. But it is not nearly enough to combat the current drought conditions.

Another great site is located in Gatesville, our hometown, on the Leon River in Fauntleroy Park. We often check the level by looking over the edge of the bridge as we cross. I give a reading to my husband such as "wouldn't get your feet wet going across." Last summer, the Leon River was often measured at 2.66 feet or the same "wouldn't get your feet wet" level, which was very discouraging to see.

"Gages such as the ones on the Leon River near Gatesville and at Lake Belton are installed and maintained by the United States Geological Survey," said Brad Brunett, water services manager for the Brazos River Authority. "Many other similar gages are located throughout the Brazos River Basin and are funded by agencies such as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Brazos River Authority. These gages provide valuable information needed to manage the area's water supplies during flood events and droughts."

Our Leon River Watershed begins above Comanche, about 90 miles northwest of Temple. Both the Belton and Proctor dams were built to control the tremendous flooding on the Leon River.

According to the readings online, all the rain that couldn't soak into Comanche County is coming down the Leon to us. On Jan. 26, the Leon River site in Gatesville was 4.54 feet. About three hours later, it jumped to 10.23 feet. On Jan. 27, the level was 19 feet and continued climbing all day, which brought big excitement to our house.

In February, Bell County received more than 2 inches of rain and the Belton Dam reading went from 584 feet to 589 feet. In March, our area received 5 inches of rain and the Belton Dam level showed 600 feet.

During these heavy rains, the Leon River site at Gatesville measures as much as 19 feet, which is about at the top of the bank.

If you are as easily entertained as my husband and I, bookmark these sites. Every drop that comes in will be important during the coming year, especially with drought predicted again this summer.

Have any questions about gardening in Central Texas? Email ask.bcmga@gmail.com.

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