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Rainfall benefits area lakes - slightly

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Amarillo, TX - In a region as dry as ours, a little bit of water goes a long way - but our lakes have been so far below normal for such a long time, that it'll take a lot more than a few good soakings to bring them back.

The Interstate Stream Commission reports the water level at Ute Lake rose about three and a half feet over the last six days, which translates to just under 18,000 acre-feet.

And when taken over that time period, the change is significant - but when you look at the water levels over the last few years, it's very much a drop in the bucket.

"It's an overall rise of over 17,000 acre-feet at Ute Lake, which brings the overall water storage up to about 129,000 acre-feet," says Todd Lindley, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, "and while that sounds very significant, it's still shy of the almost 200,000 acre-feet that they were at two years ago."

To help put that in perspective, I asked Lindley what a rise of 17,000 acre-feet would mean for Lake Meredith - he said the lake would still be at less than one percent capacity even after the gain.

"To restore Lake Meredith to where it was in the late eighties or even early nineties, it would take believe it or not, 20 to 25 consecutive heavy rain events like what we saw in New Mexico to bring Lake Meredith back to the capacity we saw there two decades ago," says Lindley.

According to the latest official data, Lake Greenbelt is at 14 percent capacity and Lake Mackenzie is currently at 5.7 percent capacity.  Lake Meredith has not been measurable since 2011, and is currently at 28.7 feet.

To see data from the U.S. Geological Survey or from Water Data for Texas, follow the links attached to this story.


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