SAN ANTONIO – It’s the second Texas summer in a row where much of the state has seen record-breaking heat and a lack of rainfall, but is it a case of paradise lost?
Some swimming holes are drying up while other popular swim spots are ankle-deep, leaving Texans with fewer options to cool off in 100-degree weather.
The U.S. Drought Monitor shows the majority of Bexar County is currently dealing with severe to extreme drought, while the northernmost part of the county is seeing exceptional drought.
Surrounding counties like Comal, Medina, Kendall, Kerr, Gillespie and Hays are also seeing extreme and exceptional drought conditions in many areas, which is significant for swimming spots that rely on rain.
“Low water levels are frustrating for recreation, but they should be expected periodically,” said KSAT Meteorologist Adam Caskey.
Earlier this year, Hays County officials announced that the popular swimming hole known as Jacob’s Well will remain closed for the foreseeable future due to low water levels and spring flow. The park, located in Wimberley, was closed for swimming during the 2022 season as well due to a lack of rainfall.
Water levels are also down significantly at Guadalupe River State Park.
Park officials said the portion of the Guadalupe River that runs through the park is measuring at zero flow as of July 22, with water levels less than hip-high and the majority of the river less than knee-high. Tubing and kayaking are not currently recommended for visitors.
“The water level is below historical averages and there is no measurable flow within the boundaries of the state park. We definitely need some rain in Central Texas,” park officials said.
What was once a free-flowing waterfall at Hamilton Pool has also been reduced to little more than a trickle and swimming at the popular Hill Country destination has been reduced to a small designated spot near the beach because of the danger of falling rocks.
The drone video below shows Canyon Lake last week, when the water level was 14 feet below the conservation pool, or what most people would consider full.
A previous KSAT report notes that many of the lake’s 23 boat ramps have already closed.
Canyon Park officials also announced the closure of one of the park’s swim beaches on Tuesday “due to declining water levels.”
Medina Lake is perhaps the most obvious example of the multi-year drought. The lake is also a reservoir and 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.
Despite Medina Lake making headlines for all the wrong reasons in recent years due to low water levels — it hasn’t always been so dry.
Below is a vintage photograph from the University of Texas at San Antonio’s Special Digital Collection that shows what Medina Lake looked like in the 1920s.
In a previous report, KSAT Meteorologist Justin Horne explained that Medina Lake sees higher fluctuations compared to most 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,” Horne said.
So where can you go to fully immerse yourself in some cool water?
The water levels for the spring-fed pools at Krause Springs remain the same year-round. The Spicewood swimming hole is approximately an hour-and-a-half drive from downtown San Antonio.
Many tubing outfitters along the San Marcos, Comal and Guadalupe rivers are still open as well. Just check their respective websites for flow rates to see how long float times are if you’re in the mood for a tubing adventure.