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Since they were built, reservoirs have lost millions of acre-feet.
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As long as Central Texans are praying for more rain to refill their reservoirs, they also might want to pray for less soil to flow with it.
Sedimentation — a fancy word for dirt washing into waterways and settling on the bottom of riverbeds and lakes — slowly eats into the amount of water that reservoirs can hold.
Some Texas lakes — including Lake Buchanan, one of the key reservoirs for Central Texas — have lost more than 10 percent of their capacity since they were built. Statewide, Texas reservoirs have lost millions of acre-feet of capacity.
A single acre-foot of water is enough to satisfy the needs of three average Austin households for an entire year.
“Capacity is decreasing over time,” said Ruben Solis, director for surface water resources at the Texas Water Development Board.
The realization isn’t new, but over the past several years new technology has allowed development board analysts to put a more precise reckoning on just how much capacity Texas reservoirs have lost. Still, as Texas looks at a lot of options to solve its water problems, sedimentation appears
A boat carrying sedimentation detection equipment passes waterfalls on Lake Buchanan. The lake has lost about 12 percent of its capacity to sedimentation.