Drought is so severe in parts of Texas that water loss at one lake has revealed an assortment of curious objects hidden beneath the surface, including a motorcycle.
Drought has plagued the Southwest U.S. for years, drastically impacting water levels at popular reservoirs like Lake Mead and Lake Powell. Lake Mead has started to recover after a wet winter, but Belton, Texas, in Bell County, has gone without rain for months. The drought has severely depleted the water levels at Stillhouse Hollow Lake, a reservoir managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on the Lampasas River.
Drought in Bell County has grown substantially worse over the last three months, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor Map, which shows that the county in east-central Texas is now completely suffering from exceptional drought, the most severe drought classification by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).
Stillhouse Hollow Lake has dropped about 6 feet since May, according to a chart created by lakesonline.com. The depleted lake has revealed trash, tires and even cars as water levels continue to recede. Trees now stick out of the water at certain parts of the reservoir, posing a hazard for boaters.
“We found a motorcycle actually just under this bridge,” Madison Wetterstroem, a park ranger with the Army Corps of Engineers, told KEYE in Austin.
Newsweek reached out to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers by email for comment.
The lake is now only at 58 percent capacity. Some rain fell in the county in mid-September, but it wasn’t enough to remedy the drought or restore lake levels. Stillhouse Hollow Lake is at an all-time low, KEYE reported.
The reservoir was formed in 1968 by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The lake was created for flood control, water storage and recreation. However, recreation has greatly been affected as the lake battles low levels. Cedar Gap Park near the lake has been closed since August, and boats are no longer able to be launched from the park because of the low water levels. Some of the lake’s boat ramps remain open, with officials urging boaters to be cautious with the low water levels, but the Stillhouse Hollow Marina has closed indefinitely during the drought.
Stillhouse Hollow Lake isn’t the only body of water in Bell County suffering from the drought. Lake Belton water levels also have dropped, sparking concerns that the ghost town of Sparta beneath the lake’s depths would be revealed if the drought continues.
The town, whose population never exceeded 100 people, existed near what used to be Cowhouse Creek. The town thrived in agriculture, and a mill was built in the town in the late 1860s, according to the Texas State Historical Association. A post office opened in 1873.
After Belton and other nearby cities experienced devastating flash flooding in the 1940s and 1950s, the Leon River was impounded. Water inundated the ghost town in 1954 to create Lake Belton, which the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers manages.