This is what 7-8 feet low water looks like at our dock. This about what we started the year with. Picture taken Aug. 2010
We picked up our last fishing trip at this dock in the AM. The boat almost got stuck in the mud, so it is time to move to the smaller more mobile dock.
One week later. The lake is falling fast as water is released downstream at an alarming rate.
Interval again one week. Already the water level at the other dock is getting low too.
No point in taking pictures of this view now. The nutgrass will grow tall and die and that's all that'll happen here until we get rain.
Even as the lake recedes from us it gives us a lovely view of the coming sunrise. I'm going to miss it.
This is what a full lake from our deck looks like.
7-10-11 Same view today - no water.
New weekly view - the Tow Valley Puddle. Look close at the upper part of the puddle and you can see where the Colorado River comes in. Yes, that little break in the mud flat is the mighty Colorado, that in other times has almost washed Austin half-way off the map.
7-10-11 View of the Tow Valley puddle. Oddly enough, this puddle will become a sort of middle lake. Before long, it will stop falling as fast as the lower lake as it becomes land locked. Too bad it won't be deep enough to wet a heron's tail feathers. You can see them, the white spots in the water.
8-24-11 The Tow Valley Swamp. A few white herons still drop by to fish. The great blue herons have gone on down to deeper water. Vegetation is taking over the moist silt in the lake bottom, already in excess of 6 ft in height. If you walk down to this stuff you can feel a cooler breeze and hear the gnats that usually fill the summer sky around the lake. All kinds of birds are out there, as well as varmints. Skunks seem especially fond of the lake bottom. They go down there to root around in the mud looking for lake leftovers.
Taken from the end of Dutchmen's Point at Tow. Most of this mud flat came up in just the last few days. If you look really hard, near the top of the picture, you can see the very thin line that is the Colorado River, and the Lower Lake is at the upper left corner in the distance.
Another picture of the mud flat at Tow. You can still see the silver ribbon that is the Colorado River as it enters the little mud hole at the old part of Tow. Look at all the deer and varmint tracks. The tanks are dry and the creeks are dry. Wild animals were coming for quite a ways to water here, but now they have to find another place. The mud here is very deep and dangerous for them. Herons are feeding on the almost landlocked fish in the distance.
This picture is good because you can see the streaks of green, the algae line left by each day's falling water level. It only takes a few days for vegetation to spring up from the silt, so this has only been exposed for a little bit.
Looking up the Colorado River from about half a mile east of Dutchman's Point - Tow. This would ordinarily be all water until you get to the hills.
The falling lake levels leave residential and resort docks alike scattered on the lake bottom like discarded toys.
It doesn't make for much of a 4th of July weekend. No boats, jet-skis, swimmers or weiner roasts or fireworks.
7-3-11 Picture of the thin thread of the Colorado River winding its way into the lower basin of Lake Buchanan. The streamflow at Bend (16 miles north) as it comes into Buchanan is 1 cubic foot per second.
At full levels the green "river banks" would be under 15-17 feet of water. You can just barely see the bluffs at Falls Creek in the distance.
There goes Mongo our friendly neighborhood pup. He did make it across safely, but it wasn't nearly as much fun as a swim. BTW he is not an English bulldog...he's more of a leggy pit bull.
Now days we don't speak of rain as how much of it we got. We can only speak of rain as to if we got to smell it and for how long. This near miss of a cloud even thundered at us a little and we got a whiff of rain for about 5 minutes.
Notice that the "water" you can see is mostly just shallow water over mud flats.
Colorado River at Tow. Stream flow at Bend, Tx sixteen miles north is showing 1 cubic foot of water per second.
The light colored object in the mud on the right is a 1-gal Clorox jug, to give you an idea of just how narrow the river is. The grooves in the mud are from fishing boats.
7-12-11 Same exact place as the previous picture, 5 days later.
Almost no stream flow left. Anxious to see how it looks in the next 5 days.
7-12-11 The Colorado River at Dutchman's Point - Tow
Notice the raccoon tracks at the water's edge for perspective on just how narrow it is.
This is it. All you thirsty folks downstream better be hoping somebody finds a way to make more water...real quick!
Cows from across the lake at Willow Slough grazing by the Colorado River at Tow.
The lake is usually their western boundry, but now what. No fences between us and them...hmmmmm
Tropical Storm Don. When the lakes get like this, our only salvation is the intervention of a tropical storm or hurricane to bring us the rain we need to survive. This is all we got from TS Don.
Your water tastes bad, you say? Sorry, it's all we got! Shallow water of the Tow Valley Swamp, coming to a faucet near you!
8-28-11 Tow Valley Rocky Point looking north toward the Falls
8-28-11 The Colorado Ribbon (formerly River) as seen from Cedar Point Park looking west. The puddle in the foreground is just a bit of stagnant water cut off from the remnants of the river. The little bright twisty thing snaking across the green is the river itself. For perspective, note that the 6 things in the puddle are ducks.
9-11-11 View from Cedar Point Part looking west to Tow. The Colorado River is just a thin trickle 1-2 ft wide winding across the mud flat.
9/11/11 The sand waves of an ancient sea bottom in the foreground at Cedar Point Park, Tow to the west across the mud flat.
8-28-11 Taken from Cedar Point Park looking toward Canyon of the Eagles. The "sticks" are the tops of tall old pecan trees that once stood by the river's edge, a pecan bottom. That's a lot of mud and silt. Imagine how nice it would be if it was water instead. Someone call West Texas and see if they would like their farm land back!
8-28-11 Cedar Point Park at Tow looking east toward Hi-Line
9-11-11 View from Cedar Point Park toward Hi-Line Resort
It's just not the same. 8-12-11 Dawn over the boat dock.
7-6-2010 That was then, lake 9-10 ft low, thunderstorm slipping over the eastern horizon.
8-12-11 This is now...20 + feet low and falling fast. Visible water here is only 18 in deep at best and land-locked.
Our low water dock last year...
The low water dock about to disappear in the vegetation.
8-24-11 A nice thunderstorm over College Station. Our son had just arrived back at A & M for school and he called to say he was getting rained on. We never saw any of it of course, but it was nice to look at anyway.
8-24-11 The A & M storm over the ruins. I guess it just mirrors my hopes that my son is on his way to a better future somehow.
7/30/11 View from Hi-Line Resort looking west toward Cedar Point Park
8-28-11 View from the Pavillion at Hi Line Resort, looking west to Cedar Point Park. The old river channel pecan treetops are up. The icy looking stuff on the left is the sluicy mud showing how much the lake has dropped today.
9/11/11 View from Hi-Line Resort looking west to Cedar Point Park
9-13-11 Sunset from Hi-Line Resort. Pictures of some of the most spectacular sunset have been taken from this spot. It is normally bright reflecting water from here to the mountains. Only the trickle of the Colorado across the drying mud flat remains.
You know how people will stop and get out of their car to go pick up a turtle and carry it across the road so it won't get squished? Well how about if Mamma turtle lays her eggs, but when all the babies hatch, the lake has moved a mile away? They all die. This mummified baby was found in the middle of the gravel road headed for the lake... or at least where it should have been. The lack of water hurts all of us.
Only a day or so after the lake level drops enough to allow the mud flat to isolate the Tow Valley Puddle from any remaining river flow and already the Puddle is shrinking. On a lighter note, the little teal ducks have started arriving and they think this place was made just for them.
Wildfire danger? These are the weeds growing in the dry lake bottom. They are 10 - 12 ft high, with a couple of months more to grow before frost kills them. They turn brown, dry out and then we start worrying when the high north winds start blowing.
How thick are they? Ken only moved back about 5 - 6 ft. There are hundreds and hundreds of acres of these and no telling how many thousands of acres of knee deep bermuda and deep, dense nut grass. All of which will die after frost. It's no great loss if the lake bottom burns up I guess...unless it takes out your dock or house in the process!
No discussion of the drought situation here would be complete without addressing the devastating economic impact.
Droughts in 1996, 2000, 2006, 2009 and 2011. Each one had the same effect on our economy at Tow as this recession has had on our whole country.
With so little time between droughts for businesses to recover, for most it has just been too much to overcome. A lot of good people have lost their jobs and businesses due to the drought.
This was Tow Country Market. Groceries, fishing tackle, gifts, pizza, sno-cones, it was a delight to our tourists and natives alike.
Big Buck Country Store
Once a pretty busy place with a nice cafe, full line of groceries and stuff and gas.
Our cafe. Over the years it has had different owners, but it had been a meeting place for the morning coffee crowd and a good place for lunch. People used to come from all over the county for the Friday night catfish dinner. It kept our community in touch with each other and kept folks fed who might not have had someone to cook for them at home.
We miss it.
The Tire Shop
It is a long way to town from Tow. It was nice to be able to have a local place to take your car.
Over the years this little blue building has been a barber/beauty shop, cafe and spa. The adjacent building was a fishing tackle and sporting goods store, built in the last little spell of normal lake levels when folks had a lake to come to.
Tow gets hit first and gets hit hardest by a drought, because of the silting in that has made it more shallow.
The lower part of Lake Buchanan is still pretty busy. The shorelines down there are still sandy and the water is still accessible - if you don't mind the trouble of getting down to it. The fishing is still good - less water for them to hide in!
Ah, the beautiful fall colors at Lake Buchanan! Not so fast.............we don't have much fall color. The reddish brown on the mountainside is from all the dead cedar trees. The color in the foreground is all the dying vegetation in the lake bottom. Normally everything in this picture would be under water except the mountains themselves.
11-20-11 Fossilized sand waves from the ancient sea bottom contrast with the current lake bottom. I doubt that anyone much knew about these before the coming of Lake Buchanan and its rising and falling lake levels. Years of wave action washed away the top soil and brought them into clear view in several places. There appear to possibly be two separate levels of sand waves on this hillside at Cedar Point. The lower ones are large and light colored and the upper ones are more ripply and darker colored.
11-20-11 The bluebonnet as our state flower was a good choice. Here is a bluebonnet seedling on the lake bottom. There are thousands of them right now. They come up in October and grow all winter to be ready to bloom in the spring. Last winter almost all of them died for lack of water. I hope this year's crop fares better. They are a sign of hope for better times to come and their tenacity is inspiring.
"Fall" colors again...Kinda pretty if you don't think about why.
Do you remember the big racks of post cards of local scenery in all its Kodachrome glory? I think we need present day post cards. Yep.
Sigh. The green stuff after frost. It's all brown, brittle and dry. This is the last surviving boat dock my grandfather and uncles built in the 50's.
Happy Thanksgiving 2011
Taken from Cedar Point park, Tow Valley in the distance.
Hope you folks downstream don't get thirsty next summer, because we are about tapped out.