Medina Lake house owner behind viral TikTok video says current water level is ‘numbing’ sight

Water level at Medina Lake lowest since Spring 2014

SAN ANTONIO – A video posted on TikTok by a San Antonio business owner showing the effects of the drought at Medina Lake has millions of views and counting.

Joel Panchevre bought his Medina Lake house four years ago. He posted the video on social media that shows a major transformation from 2019 to 2023.

“When I first had it, I had a friend come out with his boat, and we were able to just dock the boat and get on it and have a good time,” said Panchevre.

He said the lake level has dropped dramatically over the past year.

“I was numb, because I just kept seeing it go lower and lower, and eventually it was a creek,” said Panchevre. “I would see it every weekend, a foot of water just gone.”

Panchevre owns the Thirsty Aztec bar along the River Walk and uses the lake house for family, friends or his employees to enjoy a weekend getaway, but the lake is the driest its been in years.

Water Data for Texas reports Medina Lake is only 5.9 percent full, compared to 25 percent this time last year, and has dropped 33.5 feet. The water level is the lowest its been since Spring 2014.

“One of my neighbors told me that he’s been there for like 50 years. He’s only seen this happen twice in his life, where it got this low, and this is the second lowest it’s ever been,” said Panchevre.

Just like the lake levels, Panchevre said the his property value has dropped as well, but he has no plans to sell.

“Once the water is back, it really is a magical place, and for it to be close to my businesses, I think the employees can really benefit from it too,” said Panchevre.

The lake is actually a reservoir that was created as a result of the construction of the Medina Dam in 1913.

The reservoir was created to help local farmers with irrigation for their crops. Medina Lake is known to have higher fluctuations in water levels compared to other reservoirs and lakes.

“That’s due to the fact that its main purpose is for irrigation and because its watershed is rather small. During dry stretches, you’ll see significant drops. But, as we’ve learned over history, all it takes is one well-placed rain event, and it’ll fill back up,” said KSAT Meteorologist Justin Horne.

About the Authors:

RJ Marquez is co-host of KSAT News Now and reports for Good Morning San Antonio. He's been at KSAT since 2010 and covered a variety of stories and events across the San Antonio area. He also covers the Spurs for on-air and digital platforms, including his Spurs newsletter. RJ has reported stories for KSAT Explains.