Timeline of the Brazos River Basin


In search of the fabled Seven Cities of Cibola, Francisco Vasquez de Coronado leads an expedition into the Brazos basin.


Stephen F. Austin obtains permission from the Spanish Governor of Texas and Coahuila to explore the country on the Brazos River. Austin is convinced the land of the Brazos River basin is fertile and begins plans for colonization.


Major flooding occurs and the Brazos River leaves its banks from Washington to Ringold's Prairie (near present-day Navasota).


Texas Declaration of Independence is signed at Washington, below the confluence of the Brazos and Navasota rivers.


Major flooding occurs and Brazos leaves its banks from Washington to Navasota and widens the river to six miles or more for an extended distance.

The side-wheeler Mustang becomes the first ship to unload cargo at Washington, fueling the dreams of men desiring to build an empire based on steamboat transportation.


The Brazos Steam Association forms and purchases two boats for the purpose of navigation between Washington and the Gulf of Mexico.


A canal between the Brazos River and Port of Galveston is opened.


Lt. Col. S. D. Sturgis reports to the War Department that the water of the Brazos River is so briny that not even mules will consume it.


Col. William Prather discovers oil near Waco.


Leaders from towns and counties along the river establish the Brazos River Impoundment Association. The goal of the association is to tame the river. The Association's efforts are hindered by a lack of financing.


The Rivers and Harbors Act provides funds for the construction of a lock and dam system between Waco and Washington. Work completed before World War I was destroyed by the flood of 1913, ending a century-old dream of a transportation network on the Brazos River.


The Guadalupe and Trinity rivers leave their banks, and the Brazos River and the Colorado River join to flood more than 3,000 square miles of land and cause the deaths of at least 177 people and massive property damage ($3,436,144 in the Brazos Valley alone). The flood causes the river to change course. It now enters the Gulf of Mexico at Freeport.


The Brazos River and Valley Improvement Association is formed in Waco with the goal of harnessing the Brazos River. The Association's efforts are hindered by a lack of financing.


The Conservation Amendment to the Texas Constitution is passed. Under its provisions the control, prevention, and distribution of flood and storm waters becomes the duty of the state and all limitations which had prevented local financing of flood control projects were removed.


Major flooding brings death and destruction of greater magnitude than previously experienced. The floods of 1913 and 1921 are the catalyst, which causes the state to attempt to tame the Brazos River.


The Texas State Legislature appropriates funds for a survey of all rivers of the state and analysis of flood and water problems. The study clearly established the need for a state agency with the necessary power to carry out the tasks required to harness and control the Brazos River.


The Brazos River Conservation and Reclamation District is created under Article XVI, Section 59 of the Texas Constitution, to conserve, control, and utilize to beneficial service the storm and flood waters of the Brazos River and its tributary streams.

Lands of the Brazos River basin are producing more than 18 million barrels of oil a year. Oil becomes the backbone of the economy in many areas of the Brazos River basin.


United States Congress passes the National Industrial Recovery Act, signaling the beginning of the New Deal and a commitment by the federal government to restore the economy through massive spending. Title II of the act creates the Public Works Administration to make loans and grants to states and other public bodies in order to stimulate construction.


The District completes its first Master Plan for reservoir development, including a total of 13 dams on the Brazos River and its tributaries.


The District begins construction of its first dam and reservoir project, Possum Kingdom, on the main stem of the Brazos River in Palo Pinto County.


The United States Congress broadens the mandate of the United States Army Corps of Engineers to include construction of multi-purpose flood controls and water supply projects. The District completes a revised Master Plan.


The District completes Lake Possum Kingdom, its first reservoir project.


A partnership between the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Brazos River Conservation and Reclamation District, allows the District to acquire conservation storage space in the nine multi-purpose Corps' reservoirs to be constructed over the next 30 years.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers completes Lake Whitney on the main stem of the Brazos River in Hill, Bosque, and Johnson counties.


The Briscoe Irrigation Company and the Galveston County Water Company file complaints before the Texas Railroad Commission concerning the salt pollution caused by oil and gas operations in the upper watershed. This results in a Railroad Commission investigation of oil operators and the issuance of pipeline severances when abuses were not corrected. Little was accomplished by this effort to purify the waters of the Brazos River.


Record drought occurs. Most Texas counties are declared disaster areas.


The name of the District is officially changed to the Brazos River Authority. Click here to view the minutes from the January 19, 1953 Board of Directors meeting. Click here to view House Bill 175.


The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers completes Lake Belton on the Leon River in Bell County.


Texas A&M completes study and report revealing that salt contamination in the upper basin is caused by a subterranean outcropping of salt which is much larger than originally estimated. The salt bed underlies and contaminates streams in Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Kansas.


The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers completes Lake Proctor on the Leon River in Comanche County.


The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers completes Lake Waco on the Bosque River in McLennan County.


The BRA begins construction of the DeCordova Bend Dam and Lake Granbury in Hood County.


The BRA acquires the privately owned American Canal and Briscoe Canal in the lower basin, as a means of furnishing water to Fort Bend, Brazoria, and Galveston Counties for rice irrigation, and industrial and municipal uses.


The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers completes Lake Somerville on Yegua Creek in Burleson and Washington Counties.


The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers completes Lake Stillhouse Hollow on the Lampasas River in Bell County.


Lake Granbury and DeCordova Bend Dam completed on the Brazos River in Hood County.


The BRA begins operating the Waco Metropolitan Area Regional Sewerage System to treat wastes from the Cities of Waco, Bellmead, Lacy Lakeview, and Woodway. The treatment capacity of the plant is 17.8 million gallons per day.


The BRA begins operating the Sugar Land Regional Sewerage System to treat wastes from the City of Sugar Land, the Municipal Utilities District, the Nalco Chemical Company, and the Imperial Sugar Company. The treatment capacity of the plant is 3.9 million gallons per day.

The BRA begins operating the Temple-Belton Regional Sewerage System with a total capacity of 5.0 million gallons per day. The system serves the City of Belton and the western half of the City of Temple.


The BRA completes the Sterling C. Robertson Dam, which impounds the Navasota River to form Lake Limestone, the BRA's third reservoir project.


The BRA expands the capacity of the Sugar Land Regional Sewerage System to 6.5 million gallons per day.


The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers completes Lake Granger on the San Gabriel River and Lake Georgetown on the North Fork San Gabriel River, both are in Williamson County.


The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers completes Lake Aquilla on Aquilla and Hackberry Creeks in Hill County.


The BRA completes the expansion and improvement of the Waco Metropolitan Area Regional Sewerage System. The new plant uses an activated sludge process and has a treatment capacity of 38.5 million gallons per day.


The BRA obtains an option from the Houston Lighting & Power Company (now Reliant Energy) to acquire the Allens Creek reservoir site.


The BRA sells American Canal and Briscoe Canal to Galveston County Water Authority.


The BRA begins operating the Lake Granbury Surface Water and Treatment System in Hood County.


The BRA expands the Temple-Belton Regional Sewerage System.


The BRA contracts with the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission (TNRCC) to carry out the Clean Rivers Program within the Brazos River basin.

Major floods occur in the central part of the basin due to recurring thunderstorms.

The BRA begins the Volunteer Citizens' Monitoring Program to enhance the public's knowledge of local water quality issues, to increase community involvement, and to improve communication among all parties.

The BRA creates the University Intern Program to provide opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students in the Brazos River basin to acquire practical experience in different aspects of water quality projects.


The BRA enters into a Memorandum of Understanding with the United States Department of Agriculture Soil Conservation Services (now the Natural Resources Conservation Service) for cooperative water quality efforts in the Brazos River basin.


The BRA completes its fourth reservoir project, Lake Alan Henry in Garza and Kent Counties, to serve the City of Lubbock.


The BRA enters into the Brazos-Colorado Water Alliance with the Lower Colorado River Authority, primarily to address water and wastewater issues in the rapidly growing Williamson County area.

The BRA begins managing operations at the Brushy Creek Regional Wastewater System in Williamson County.

Major flooding occurs in the central part of the basin due to recurring thunderstorms.


The BRA initiates the Basin Monitoring Program, a strategic, basin-wide water quality data collection effort.


The BRA, along with the USDA-NRCS, the TNRCC, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, the United States Environmental Protection Agency, the Texas Institute for Applied Environmental Research, the City of Waco, and the City of Clifton collaborated with the U.S. Corps of Engineers to conduct the Middle Brazos Reconnaissance Study. The ecological health of the North Bosque River watershed and other watersheds in the middle Brazos River basin was assessed to determine the natural resources lost due to changes in land use and restorative measures appropriate for the area.


Tropical Storm Charley affected the Lower Brazos River watershed. Most of the flooding occurred in in the Rio Grande River basin causing 13 deaths and $50 million in damages.

A major flood event occurs in Central Texas after 30 inches of rainfall in a few hours. The Little River experiences the fifth-largest discharge in its history. Flooding also occurs in the South Fork San Gabriel watershed, and the Mill Creek watershed. Property damage of $750 million and 29 deaths were reported primarily in the Colorado and Guadalupe River basins.


The BRA assumes operation of the City of Hutto's wastewater treatment plant. The project is a joint effort of the Brazos-Colorado Water Alliance and the city.

The BRA exercises its option to purchase the Allens Creek reservoir site from Reliant Energy.

The BRA contracts with the EPA to conduct the Brazos/Navasota Watershed Management Project, a multi-phase approach to water quality management, with a twofold objective of proactively protecting water quality while supporting economic development.


BRA staff participating in the Middle Brazos Feasibility Study, Phase II of the U.S. Corps of Engineers Middle Brazos Study, conduct pre-construction analysis of possible remediation measures, such as wetlands, reforestation, and conservation easements, to improve water quality and aquatic habitat.

The BRA contracts with the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission to perform the Clean Rivers water quality monitoring program in the basin.

As part of Texas Senate Bill 1, the BRA joins the Brazos G Regional Water Planning Group as administrative agent.

The BRA begins replacement of the flood gates of the Morris Sheppard Dam at Possum Kingdom Lake. The project will last nine years. At the same time, the BRA begins rehabilitation of the 16 gates at the DeCordova Bend Dam at Lake Granbury. The rehab included the installation of new electric gate hoists.

The BRA begins operations for the Clute/Richwood Regional Wastewater System.


Construction of a new Central Office building in Waco is completed.

The BRA, along with the Lower Colorado River Authority, opens the Sandy Creek Water Treatment Plant. The 4.0 million gallon per day plant provides potable drinking water to the City of Leander and surrounding areas.


The BRA purchases the Kerr-McGee pipeline. The 57-mile pipeline, now dubbed the West Central Brazos Water Distribution System, had once been used to transport water for oil drilling now serves as a means to provide water to areas of west Texas.

The BRA and Poseidon Resources sign a Memorandum of Understanding to evaluate the possibility of a large-scale seawater desalination project.

The BRA contracts with the Lee County Fresh Water Supply District Number 1 for its first retail water and wastewater utility service. Some 150 homes and businesses in the city of Dimebox receive both potable water and wastewater treatment services.


The BRA signs a major contract with the City of Georgetown to become the wastewater treatment services provider for the city's six treatment plants.

The BRA receives grant funding from the Texas Water Development Board to study the feasibility of a seawater desalination project.

The BRA sells the Waco Metropolitan Sewerage Plant (WMARSS) to the customer cities.


The Brazos River Authority purchases a potable water drinking plant from the City of Taylor beginning a $17.4 million expansion of the plant.


The BRA transferred ownership and operational responsibilities for Lake Alan Henry to the City of Lubbock. The transfer of bond holdings successfully completed the contract between the City and the Authority for completion of a water supply lake for the city.


The BRA begins operation of the Williamson County Raw Water Line between Lake Stillhouse Hollow and Lake Georgetown.


BRA Water Services drafts changes to the System Drought Contingency Plan. The BRA Board of Directors approves the updated plan in July. The plan updates drought stage triggers to provide reasonable timing between implementation of drought stages. The triggers also take into account combined volumes for the lakes Possum Kingdom-Granbury-Whitney and the lakes Stillhouse Hollow-Georgetown reservoir systems.


Construction is completed in March on the expansion of the East Williamson County Regional Water System. The system relays water from Lake Granger to five areas including Taylor, Jonah Special Utilities District, the cities of Hutto and Thrall and Nowak Water Supply Company. The expansion increases the plant's capacity from 5.3 million gallons per day (mgd) to 12.8 mgd, and is part of the development of a long-term regional treated water system for Williamson County.


In April, the BRA awards a bid for a third-party sale of most residential and selected commercial leases at Possum Kingdom Lake to Patterson PK Land Partnership, LTD. The state also passes legislation to validate the third-party sale.


Working with various stakeholders, the BRA completes the Lake Granbury Watershed Protection Plan (WPP). This locally developed plan is designed to reduce bacterial impairments in all parts of Lake Granbury that do not meet state water quality standards (primarily older man-made canals serving residential developments) or the local stakeholder goal. Grants to help fund the plan's goals are obtained in 2011.

The BRA completes the final phase of the Possum Kingdom Lake Hike and Bike Trails System. The third, 5-mile addition links the 11 miles of Phases I and II to area campgrounds and parks. Funding for trail development is provided on a cost-share basis through grants with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

The Board votes in November to decommission the Lake Possum Kingdom hydroelectric plant and staff notifies the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) of the intent to surrender the license. The facility has not generated power since 2007 due to issues related to the integrity of the penstocks that carry lake water to the hydroelectric turbines.


The Brazos basin continues to suffer through a record-breaking drought. The 12 months from October 2010 through September 2011 are the hottest and driest in more than 100 years. Seven of the BRA's 11 reservoirs reach all-time low levels.

The BRA completes ultra-filtration and reverse osmosis modifications and additions to the potable water treatment plant at the Lake Granbury Surface Water and Treatment System, bringing the rated capacity to 13 million gallons per day.

The BRA files its Surrender of License Application for the Possum Kingdom Lake hydroelectric plant with FERC in July, after submitting it to pertinent state and federal agencies for review.

In April, the BRA Board of Directors approves the Possum Kingdom-Granbury-Whitney Water Management Plan and introduces it to the public at meetings at Lakes Granbury and Possum Kingdom. The new plan adjusted the ratio of levels between the lakes to better balance adverse impacts that may be experienced during drought.

Large wildfires in April and August devastate much of the land around Lake Possum Kingdom. Together, the fires burn more than 133,000 acres and destroy more than 330 structures, including homes around the reservoir.


Transfer of ownership, operations and personnel at the Granbury Surface Water and Treatment System from the BRA to Granbury was completed on May 31, 2012.

After owning and operating the Temple-Belton Wastewater Treatment Plant for 38 years, the BRA struck an agreement with the cities, transferring ownership of the plant to them. The BRA continues to manage operations of the regional plant.


The Texas State Water Plan received a long needed financial boost when voters approved State Proposition 6. This amendment to the Texas Constitution allowed for the creation of the State Water Implementation Fund with $2 billion budgeted to help fund the water plan’s 562 proposed projects. These funds act as “seed money” for loans to help pay a project’s costs.

The 83rd Texas Legislature passes Senate Bill 918, allowing the BRA to sell its remaining residential and commercial leases that were not covered by House Bill 3031, passed by the 81st Texas Legislature.


On March 12, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approved the Brazos River Authority’s surrender of its license to operate the Lake Possum Kingdom hydroelectric plant. With that approval, the 73-year-old plant was officially decommissioned.

The BRA partnered with other state and local organizations to conduct a flood study in the lowest portions of the Brazos River basin. The flood protection planning study was initiated with the help of a $514,783 state grant and matching funds from local governments and organizations. The project was created to study flooding issues from the Grimes/ Waller county line to the Gulf of Mexico. That area’s population is booming, yet floodplain information has been lacking or outdated.

On May 13, 2014, the Brazos River Authority delivered the updated Water Management Plan to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) after it was amended to incorporate the Texas Senate Bill 3 Environmental Flow Standards for the Brazos River basin adopted by the TCEQ. The WMP and related System Operation Permit are an effort by the BRA to address current and future basin water supply needs in a cost-effective and environmentally-sensitive manner. If granted, the permit will appropriate a new, reliable supply of water for municipalities, industry, agricultural and mining interests within the Brazos basin without the costly and time-consuming construction of new reservoirs.


On August 23, the TCEQ approved the System Operations Permit making additional water available for use in the Brazos River basin. Approximately 100,000 acre-feet of additional water can be supplied as a result of the permit.

In 2016, ownership of the West Central Brazos Water Distribution System, acquired by the BRA as a means of delivering water westward from Possum Kingdom Lake to meet municipal and industrial needs in the region, was transferred to the West Central Texas Municipal Water District.

The divestiture of leasehold properties at Possum Kingdom was completed with the successful sale and disposition of the legislatively mandated properties in March 2016.


The BRA became actively engaged in a conjunctive use groundwater project in Williamson County with a demonstration project to determine the feasibility of blend groundwater from the Trinity Aquifer, which underlies much of eastern Williamson County, with treated Lake Granger surface water from the BRA’s East Williamson County Regional Water System. A test well was drilled and water quality testing conducted. The BRA began construction during of a Trinity Aquifer production well that will increase the available water for Williamson County.

The BRA’s System Operation Permit Drought Study was completed and filed with the TCEQ in June 2017. The conclusions of the study noted that the Upper Basin experienced conditions worse than those in the drought of the 1950s, while the remainder of the basin and reservoirs did not.


After many years working to obtain the System Operation Permit, the final permit became uncontestable in September 2018. The contracting of additional water supply under the permit will begin with fiscal year 2020.

The BRA completed its first Trinity Aquifer groundwater production well in calendar year 2018. The well is the first in a series that will be used conjunctively with surface water from Lake Granger and the BRA’s East Williamson County Water Treatment Plant. The project creates additional water supply to serve the rapidly growing Williamson and Bell County areas along the Interstate 35 corridor.


In 2014, the BRA and several partner organizations were awarded funding by the Texas Water Development Board to study the lower Brazos River floodplain. The study would focus on flooding issues from the Grimes/Waller county line to the Gulf of Mexico. Headed by the engineering firm of Halff and Associates, the study was nearly complete when Hurricane Harvey hit the Gulf Coast, dropping more than 60 inches of rainfall. The BRA Board of Directors approved additional funding for the study to continue, allowing for information from the hurricane to be included. The final report was completed in March 2019.

Since the early part of the century, the fight to slow the spread of zebra mussels, an invasive non-native mollusk, throughout the southern states had escalated. The BRA joined with other river authorities and water providers in a campaign to educate the public in efforts to slow the spread into the Brazos River basin. In 2016, the mollusk was found in the BRA System’s Lake Belton. In 2017, zebra mussels were found in Lake Stillhouse Hollow, temporarily halting use of the Williamson County Regional Raw Water Line to transport water to Lake Georgetown. Following meetings with the US Army Corps of Engineers and the pipeline owners, use of the line resumed when needed in 2018. To date, the mollusks have also been found in Lakes Georgetown and Granger within the BRA System of water supply reservoirs.

The water right permit for the proposed Allens Creek Reservoir was amended by the Texas Legislature in 2011 to require that construction commence by 2025 with completion by 2028. In 2017, the BRA informed the City of Houston of its intent to begin environmental permitting and preliminary design. As the BRA moved forward with the permitting portion of the project, the City of Houston became reticent and then resistant to the project, noting they had no immediate need for the water. Following more than a year of failed negotiations to buy out the city’s right in the permit, the BRA backed legislation proposed by several lower Brazos basin customers to force the City of Houston to sell their interest in Allens Creek Reservoir. The legislature passed the bill for a required sale of $23 million which was later signed into law by Governor Abbott.