With rain scarce, the Blanco State Park has seen water levels in the Blanco River drop below normal levels, so low in some areas that it is only ankle deep.
However, some good is coming out of the lack of water flow. Last week, the first impoundment of the Blanco River located in the State Park was drained completely, which will allow park crews a chance to repair leaks in the dam. While drained, the crews are also trying to obtain a permit that would allow them to relocate gravel and boulders from the middle of the river to the banks to help prevent erosion.
Another reason for draining the first impoundment was a decrease in the percentage of oxygen, which was putting the fish at risk. The fish were wrangled and moved to the second impoundment in the river; saving the majority of the bass, catfish and perch. An avid bird watcher at the park reported seeing an increase in cranes; most likely due to the lack of water in nearby creeks and reservoirs.
While the section is drained, the Blanco State Park staff will take the opportunity to make the river safer by removing trash, glass, etc.; things that are not visible or easily removed when the river is at full capacity.
Michael Young, Superintendent at the Blanco State Park, said, “We are actually seeing an increase in revenue for this fiscal year as opposed to the last; we are up 11% in revenue and 22% in visitation.”
Mr. Young cites low water levels in surrounding areas and the tough economic times as contributors to this. “We have seen a lot of people come from Austin and San Antonio.” He said that he believes that families are looking for close, economical activities.
“Revenue might be even higher, but our water craft rentals have declined,” stated Young. He said that the water crafts are very popular, especially during the peak season from March-August.
The second impoundment in the park is down only about six inches from normal levels. The impoundment has benefited from springs that flow into it, but now those springs are slowing down.
It is not known at this time how much rainfall is needed to bring the river back up to full capacity.