Nature

The Rebirth of Medina Lake

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Located in the beautiful Texas Hill Country, in northeastern Medina and southeastern Bandera counties, Medina Lake is approximately 18 miles long and three miles wide. Construction began on Medina Lake in 1911, with approximately 1,500 workers working around the clock feverishly due to expected floods in the summer of 1913. Construction of the lake was completed in November of 1912. The expected floods of the summer of 1913 never materialized. Medina Lake was filled to capacity for the first time in November of 1919. Intended to be mainly an irrigation reservoir, Medina Lake was part of a plan to encourage the purchase of land to potential farmers.

Besides being used for irrigation purposes, over the years Medina Lake has also been enjoyed for recreational purposes by many. Medina Lake has been stocked with many fish including largemouth bass, white bass, hybrid striped bass, catfish, and carp.  Historically known for its great fishing around the time period of 1943, Medina Lake had great fishing for 20 or 30 more years.

Drought of 2010 to Early 2015

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Photo: William Luther, San Antonio Express-News

The above picture was taken on October 7, 2011 when Medina Lake was at 27.6% capacity. Under normal conditions the lake would be mostly full.

In the fall of 2010, Texas entered into an almost five-year drought period. According to the National Weather Service, 2011 became the driest year on record in Texas averaging 8.5 inches of rain. The drought not only had serious impacts on ranchers’ livelihood, agriculture, and sparked many Texas wildfires; it also depleted Medina Lake. The lake took such a sharp decline in capacity that in 2012, Medina Lake was only at 13% capacity down from October 7, 2011’s 27.6 % capacity.  In early 2015, the lake declined to approximately 3.5% capacity.

A Wild Weather Ride

The above video shows flooding of the Medina River which flows into Medina Lake.

From drought, to hail storms, to tornadoes, to floods, to blizzards (Texas Panhandle got approximately 15 inches of snow in December of 2015), 2015 was a wild weather ride for Texas! May 2015 was the wettest month on record for Texas since record keeping began. Enough rain fell over Texas to cover the entire state with 8 inches of water.

According to one article from www.wired.com, “Texas really can’t catch a break. A month ago, the Lone Star State was in the middle of a dry emergency: Its reservoirs were draining; its depleted aquifers were sucking the earth above. As of Wednesday, though, the state is saturated.  Four weeks of dousing storms have swept away property, roads, and lives and prompted Governor Greg Abbott to declare 37 counties as disaster areas.”

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