The drought has been drying up business on Lake Travis for years, but on Labor Day, the longtime lack of rain caused an Austin staple to close its doors for good.
Carlos' n Charlie’s has been in business along Lake Travis since 1998. The almost 20 years of cool margaritas and lake side fun all came to halt when the levels of Lake Travis began to plummet.
On Labor Day, Carlos' n Charlie’s owners held a live auction for the restaurant's last day on the lake. People from all over Central Texas came out to take a little bit of the restaurant’s history with them.
Owner Pete Clark says he has been overwhelmed by the community’s support, but Monday marks the restaurant’s final stop.
“I’ve been telling people never say never, but we don’t have any plans on the drawing board for a surprise reunion or anything,” he said.
Clark says the profits from Monday’s auction will help pay the bills. The low lake levels have put him in troubled economic water.
"I've never seen it this bad and I've never seen it stay this bad this long," Clark said.
The historic September average for Lake Travis is 663 feet. Today, the lake level is 43 feet lower at 620 feet, and dropping.
Jo Ann Tedder is a Lake Travis resident and activist with the Central Texas Water Collation. She made bids for some of the items for sale at the Carlos' n Charlie’s auction. She is also bidding to remove the entire leadership of the Lower Colorado River Authority.
"The Highland Lakes are becoming an endangered species unless something changes," she said."We've worked very closely to work with the board. It has been like hitting a wall. After this happened, we decided take the gloves off."
Tedder says poor LCRA water management has drained the lake, contributing to companies going out of business. LCRA released water downstream to rice farmers in three critical years, despite the drought in 2008, 2009, and 2011.
"I am not here to blame anybody--or do anything like that--but there are problems that need to be solved,” Clark said.
The current drought is quickly becoming worse than the drought of record back in the 1950s. The Highland Lakes chain, which includes Lake Travis, is currently only about a third full.