Weekend rainfall adds water to draining Lake Nacogdoches

NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - This past weekend's rainfall that lifted several burn bans has also benefited one of our East Texas lakes. For the past two years, Lake Nacogdoches has been hit hard by droughts, and the city was a little concerned for this year, but that might be a long lost worry.

People are feeling a little bit reassured because of the weekend's rainfall, which did bring around 8 feet to the draining lake. While Lake Nacogdoches lake levels aren't nearly where they were two years ago, there are still concerns.

"The lake generally fluctuates three and four feet towards the end of the summer so currently we are exactly where we would expect to be at this time of the year," Steven Bartlett, the city engineer for the City of Nacogdoches, said.

But that wasn't the story last month when lake levels dropped nearly four feet.

"We are a little behind in our rainfall this year depending on what rain gauge you look at we have somewhere between 22 and 25 inches for the year. Our normal rainfall amounts in Nacogdoches County average around 49 to 50 inches a year," Bartlett said.

But four feet isn't nearly as bad as 12 feet, which was the problem the city faced back in 2011.

"That was really an accumulation of 2007, 2008, 2009 where we didn't really have enough annual rain to replenish the lake so we started each subsequent year a little lower in levels," Bartlett said.

Bartlett says that's no longer a problem this year, but there are still rainfall concerns.

The lake is one of the main sources of drinking water for the city, including Stephen F. Austin University. In fact, the lake makes up 60 percent of the city's water source.

Bartlett says he's not necessarily concerned about the lake levels dropping this year because there are two years of drinking water still available. But if East Texas does have a dry winter, he says they will have to come up with another option for drinking water.

"Of course, no one can predict what the rainfall amounts will be. But predictions are a little bit drier than usual for fall so we think we will stay a little bit behind," Bartlett said.

A concern that hasn't necessarily hit its peak just yet, but a concern Bartlett says the city is monitoring. Bartlett says the city has 6 wells and 4 currently in construction. He says those 4 wells will be used as a supplemental source for the lake if the lake levels do drop. There are also 2 wells planned for the future.

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