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Officials predict Lake Travis will run dry by 2016

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A troubling Dooms Day scenario was laid out during the Thursday night Austin City Council meeting. Lake Travis will run dry by 2016, but efforts are underway to keep that prediction from coming true.

To keep the prediction from coming true, some major water restrictions may have to be ordered as soon as this spring.

Lake Travis was designed to be a giant water bucket, but in order to get your attention about conservation we've been given a rock bottom count-down.

The last time Lake Travis was full, was in 2007. Since then staff members at St. Luke's on the lake have watched the water line behind them slip lower and lower out of view.

"It's absolutely depressing, it's discouraging, and it's very sad," St. Luke's Church Secretary Mary Miner said.

Now with the historic Colorado River channel in sight Austin City Council members Thursday night were given a starting scenario during a briefing by Water Utility Director Gorge Meszaros.

By roughly 16, the lakes would be near empty," Meszaros said.

The doomsday prediction is not just based on Mother Nature but would have to involve in-action by the community. Meszaros assured the council the looming crisis was not being ignored.

"Council member, today everything is on the table right now we are looking at every option that's available to work through this drought," Meszaros said.

Some tough new restrictions may be ordered by this spring. Outdoor watering could be limited to using hand-held hoses and buckets. An emergency utility rate hike could be approved and in the extreme.

The amount of water you're allowed to use inside your home could even be cut.

Local car washes may also have to be shut down. Mark Klarey says he will be willing to drive a dirty car to help keep water flowing.

"Well you just make due, you get buy as best you can, you want to conserve the water anyway so you do less washes, you wash with less water and you just find a way to work," Klarey said.

Water managers with LCRA believe conservation and mandates to reduce consumption will prevent Lake Travis from ever going dry. Some of those efforts are already underway. Church members along the rim of Lake Travis say they will continue to pray for a long, steady rain.

The water plan includes building new reservoirs, drilling new wells, as well as recycling water. The most difficult issue may be addressing the needs of those downstream, which also rely on a flowing Colorado River.

Most rice farmers have already been cut off because of the lower water levels on the Highland Lakes.

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