Sam Rayburn Reservoir water level nears record low

Sam Rayburn Reservoir is nearing record low water levels. The Lower Neches Valley Authority has increased the water shortage status at the lake from moderate to severe conditions.

The last time it reached these severe conditions was in 1996 when it dropped to 150 feet.

The low water levels at the Sam Rayburn Reservoir affect everyone in Southeast Texas, but the one's who are really feeling the pinch are the people whose livelihoods depend on a healthy lake.

Ann Wilson has owned a tackle store near Sam Rayburn Lake for 25 years.

"That lake is our livelihood in this area," says Wilson.

However, record low water levels threatens that livelihood.

Wilson says business has gone down with the water by 30 percent.

"The traffic is not there, our tournaments are not here. They had to reschedule and go somewhere else because of the safety for the contestants," says Wilson.

Game Warden Morgan Inman says the lake is normally 164 feet deep. Now, it's 12 feet below that, exposing rocks and cliffs that should be submerged.

The Sam Rayburn provides water to many parts of Southeast Texas, and the Lower Neches Valley Authority wants users to reduce water consumption by 30 percent.

"It's affecting a lot of folks from the recreational boater to the fisherman, even to the local economy and down the coast to the local farmers who depend on this water," says Game Warden Inman.

Greg Smith is one of those fishermen. He says he's never seen the water this low.

 "It has helped the fishing, but it's made it more dangerous as far as you know your submerged islands," says Smith.

Wilson says like business, she hopes the water will soon go up.

"We just got to, like I said, hope and pray for rain, and it will come back," says Wilson.

To extend the water supply,  the Lower Neches Valley Authority says businesses who use the water are now required to schedule the delivery and amount of water they need through the drought.

In order for the water condition to drop from severe to moderate, water levels must reach more than 153 feet and stay there for at least 30 days straight.


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