Three of the new gauges will be installed between Austin and Bastrop, and two will be placed between Bastrop and Smithville. The LCRA currently has 21 gauges between Austin and Smithville. It will take between 3 and 6 months to install the new gauges but the announcement comes on the heels of another flood event.
“The rainfall we saw on Onion Creek and Dry Creek was a very significant rainfall event,” said John Hofmann with LCRA. “It made it apparent we needed to add additional monitoring in that area.”
The new gauges will be part of LCRA’s Hydromet, which is a system that has more than 270 automatic weather and river gauges throughout the lower Colorado River basin stretching from the Hill Country to the Gulf Coast. The information from gauges help LCRA and the National Weather Service predict possible flood areas.
“They allow you to see how high water is and how fast water is moving,” said Hofmann about the gauges.
Due to recent flooding in Central Texas, Sen. Kirk Watson, D-Austin, helped secure funding for additional river gauges. Earlier this month, Watson said he received assurances from the LCRA that additional gauges and other equipment will be installed along the Colorado River.
Sites for new Colorado River gauges:
- Colorado River @ Webberville
- Colorado River @ FM 969
- Colorado River @ Upton
- Two between Bastrop and Smithville
During the recent October floods, the gauges recorded the following rise along the Colorado River along with impacts from the flooding.
- 31.07 feet in Bastrop, 8th highest rise there on record
Impacts: Disastrous flooding reaches many homes between Bastrop and Smithville in the Doty River, Hidden Valley and Pecan Shores subdivisions. Roads and bridges in the flood plain are very dangerous. Livestock should be moved from the flood plain
- 29.87 feet in Smithville, 6th highest rise there on record
Impacts: Major flooding inundates homes five miles upstream in Hidden Valley Estates, three miles upstream in Doty River Estates, one mile upstream in Pecan Shores Estates just above Smithville and in Kirtley below Smithville.
- 37.22 feet in La Grange, 8th highest rise there on record
Impacts: Major flooding of the Colorado River reaches lowest homes in the Fritsch Auf Subdivision on the south bank of the Colorado River in La Grange. Severely flooded roads and bridges near the river make travel and evacuations very dangerous.
After the May floods, counties, cities, and other agencies are planning to create a more advanced system to monitor the Blanco River upstream from Wimberley. The current plan includes five new stream gauges upstream from the city. The Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority also plans to install eight rainfall gauges. According to a report, the GBRA intends to use grant money for the roughly $150,000 construction project. The document also states that GBRA plans to pay the roughly $9,000 per year for operating the rainfall gauges.