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Water School

What are drought classifications?

@media (max-width: 960px) { .img_right { clear: both !important; float: inherit !important; margin: 0 auto !important; margin-bottom: 20px !important; } }Every year since 1999, the U.S. Drought Monitor has created maps that include levels of dryness and drought severity. These maps note different classes of drought severity by colors.The drought levels include: Yellow - D0, abnormally dry Impacts going into drought - short-term dryn...
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What is the water cycle?

The water cycle is the continuous process of water moving from Earth's oceans, atmosphere and land. This cycle does not move in a particular order but in many different variations because different variables impact it like, topography, temperature and location.      Through precipitation, water condenses, forming a liquid and falling to the Earth as rain, snow, hail or fog. Once on the ground, water either remains in its liquid state, freezes, becoming ice or evaporates, or be...
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How is the flow of the river measured?

How is the flow of the river measured?

A rivers rate of flow is measured in terms of cubic feet per second (cfs) or how many cubic feet of water (volume) passes by a gaging location for a period of one second (one cubic foot of water is approximately 7.5-gallons). Gages are managed by the United States Geological Survey (USGS) at intervals along a watercourse to measure the rate of flow. You can find information on streamflow on the Brazos River and its tributaries flow by going to this link. 
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Why do lake levels fluctuate?

Despite a common misconception, there are very few “constant level lakes,” and none operated by the Brazos River Authority.  A constant level lake is one that is artificially managed to remain at a specific level essentially by using another source of water to replenish losses due to evaporation, etc.Several factors can affect a lake’s level and only some are within human control. The chief factor that is not controllable is the impact of climate.  Evaporation is a co...
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What types of contaminates can be found in drinking water?

No water is completely pure. Contaminates, both naturally occurring and manmade, occur at differing levels depending on your location throughout the world. In the United States, federal and state regulations set standards for the maximum amount of contaminants allowed for water to be considered safe for drinking. Regulated contaminants include a variety of microbes and substances that at certain levels could cause adverse health effects.Though most treated drinking water is safe for consumption,...
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What is an acre-foot?

@media (max-width: 960px) { .img_right { clear: both !important; float: inherit !important; margin: 0 auto !important; margin-bottom: 20px !important; } }An acre-foot is commonly used to measure water volume. It is the amount of water needed to cover one acre (43,560 square feet) with one foot of water. One acre-foot is equal to 325,851 gallons of water, enough to cover a football field with a foot of water. Measuring acre footage is a...
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What is runoff?

  Runoff is the portion of precipitation that doesn’t soak into soil and instead moves from land to streams or other surface water. Runoff can be caused by precipitation, snowmelt and irrigation that the Earth does not soak up. There are three types of runoffs. They include:•    Surface Runoff: Water after precipitation merges with streams or surface water•    Subsurface Runoff: Water soaks into the soil and merges into the water table, the...
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What is in untreated water that can make you sick?

What is in untreated water that can make you sick?

Water drawn from rivers, lakes stream and other bodies of water as well as groundwater can be contaminated and could make you sick if you drink it without treating it first. Waterborne diseases, caused by microorganisms that live in untreated water, can cause diarrhea, nausea vomiting and other symptoms, and in extreme cases, death.Many of these pathogens infect water through contact with human and animal feces, carried there by runoff or seeping into the water supply from leaking sewage or sept...
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What is Possum Kingdom Lake?

What is Possum Kingdom Lake?

Possum Kingdom Lake, located on the main stem of the Brazos River northwest of Fort Worth, was the first water supply reservoir constructed in the Brazos River basin. Located in Young, Palo Pinto, Stephens, and Jack counties, the construction of the Morris Sheppard Dam was begun in 1938 and completed in 1941 with the aid of the Works Progress Administration Program.Possum Kingdom Lake covers an area of 16,716 acres with 219 miles of shoreline. The reservoir holds approximately 556,340 ...
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What is Lake Granbury?

What is Lake Granbury?

DeCordova Bend Dam and Lake Granbury were constructed by the Brazos River Authority and are maintained and operated by the BRA as a source of water supply.Construction of the project began in December 1966 and was completed in September 1969. The reservoir provides 129,011 acre-feet of storage capacity for conservation of flood and storm waters to meet requirements of municipalities, industries, agriculture and mining.  The reservoir has a permitted yield of 64,712 acre feet. ...
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What is the Brazos River Authority and what do they do?

What is the Brazos River Authority and what do they do?

The mission of the Brazos River Authority (BRA) is to develop, manage, and protect the water resources of the Brazos River basin. The BRA was created by the Texas Legislature in 1929 and was the first state agency in the United States created specifically for the purpose of developing and managing the water resources of an entire river basin.The water stored in the three BRA-owned reservoirs and eight US Army Corps of Engineers reservoirs within the system is permitted for use by ...
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Where is Lake Limestone?

Where is Lake Limestone?

Lake Limestone, located on the upper Navasota River in Limestone, Robertson and Leon counties, is a water supply reservoir built by the Brazos River Authority in 1978. Construction of the reservoir was made possible through the sale of water to Texas Electric Utilities to be used by their lignite-burning electric plants in the area.  To view a copy of the Lake Limestone state permit, click here.Water from the reservoir is supplied for similar use at a NRG steam-electric plant just...
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How is the Brazos River Authority governed?

How is the Brazos River Authority governed?

The Brazos River Authority is governed by a Board of Directors. Board members are appointed by the Governor of Texas with advice and consent of the state Senate. The organization is accountable to the Governor, the Legislature, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) and the cities, businesses and individuals throughout the basin to whom we sell water.
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What is the Texas Clean Rivers Program?

What is the Texas Clean Rivers Program?

The Texas Legislature created the Clean Rivers Program in 1991 when it passed the Texas Clean Rivers Act. Legislators’ goal was to push Texas towards comprehensive water planning and management to ensure the future quality of the water supply.The state designated the Brazos River Authority as the lead agency to conduct water quality assessment and Clean Rivers Program (CRP) planning in the Brazos River watershed. Every one to three months depending on location, the BRA tests water for everythin...
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What is wastewater?

What is wastewater?

Wastewater is water that has been used in homes, industries, and businesses that has been in contact with human or industrial waste and cannot be reused or returned to the water cycle until it has been treated or cleaned.
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What are system operations?

What are system operations?

Authorized by the state, the Brazos River Authority’s system operations permit allows the BRA to sell up to 705,000 acre-feet of water basin-wide from the 11 system reservoirs and the rivers within the watershed. The system permit allows the BRA to draw the water from any of the reservoirs and rivers included in the system allowing the BRA to utilize the sources with the largest storage of water at any specific time.
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What is a drought?

A drought is generally considered to be a prolonged period of less-than-normal precipitation such that the lack of water causes below-average streamflow or lake levels, lowered soil moisture, crop damage, or economic losses.  Droughts are globally the second-most costly weather event behind hurricanes, according to National Geographic. In Texas, during the 2011 drought, an estimated $7.62 billion was lost by farmers and ranchers, according to Texas AgriLife. Not only are droughts one o...
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How is wastewater cleaned?

How is wastewater cleaned?

While exact methods can vary, here’s a general breakdown of the municipal wastewater treatment process:When wastewater leaves a home or business, it is transported through municipal collector pipelines usually by the force of gravity, to a wastewater treatment plant. If gravity flow is not available all the way, then a lift station may pump the wastewater up to a level where gravity flow can again take place.As wastewater enters the treatment plant, it is screened to remove non-sewage items suc...
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What is flood stage?

Flood stage is an established gage height within a creek or river above which a rise in water surface level is described as a flood. This is the elevation at which the overflow of the natural banks of a stream or body of water begins.The gage height is the height of the water surface above a predetermined point. Once the gage height becomes too high in the lowest bank of reach this is when flood damage begins to impact an area. The National Weather Service uses gage height numbers to inform peop...
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What is water conservation?

Water conservation is the careful management and use of water to assure it provides the best long-term benefit to the public. Conservation is preservation of water from loss, damage or neglect. It includes processes that help provide long-term access to clean water by preventing unnecessary water usage and waste.Conservation can include preserving, controlling and developing water resources, both surface water and groundwater, and preventing water pollution. Water conservation is pract...
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What is an outhouse?

What is an outhouse?

An outhouse, commonly referred to as a privy in the Texas Statutes, is a type of toilet without plumbing in a small building separated from a main structure. Instead of being connected to a sewer or septic system, an outhouse sits over a pit.In an outhouse however, bacteria that thrive in oxygen break down the waste, with help from other natural processes. Eventually the pit fills, is covered with dirt and the outhouse is relocated.Under Texas law, an outhouse may not be built within 75 feet of ...
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What is the Brazos River?

What is the Brazos River?

The Brazos River is the longest river contained entirely in Texas, with its watershed stretching from New Mexico to the Gulf of Mexico. The Brazos River draw lies approximately 50 miles west of the Texas-New Mexico border, beginning a watershed that stretches 1,050 miles and comprises 44,620 square miles, 42,000 of which are in Texas.The Brazos River proper is formed at the confluence of the upper forks of the river, the Salt and Double Mountain, in Stonewall County. The Clear Fork joins th...
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What is a flood plain?

A floodplain is any ordinarily dry land area susceptible to inundation by water. This area is usually low, flat, and next to a stream or other body of water. Living on a floodplain can be especially dangerous in the circumstance that flooding does occur. There is always some risk for those on a floodplain, whether it’s people, businesses, or agriculture. Some floodplains are clearly defined by natural features, by infrastructure made by people, or not clearly outlined.Some floodplains are ...
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What is groundwater?

What is groundwater?

Groundwater is water found beneath the Earth’s surface that gradually seeped down by saturating soil or rock. This water is stored in underground crevices and in the pores of rocks and other materials beneath the surface.
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What is a water right?

Water rights or a water permit is granted by the state in set increments to ensure that water is available for all in need.There are several types of water rights in Texas: perpetual rights including permits and certificates of adjudication and limited rights including temporary and term permits.
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What is subsidence?

What is subsidence?

Subsidence is a drop in the surface level of land. It sometimes occurs when groundwater is pumped from an aquifer. During this virtually irreversible process, cracks, fissures and sinkholes can appear in the ground.The southern area of the Brazos River basin has experienced a great deal of subsidence. To combat this problem, regulatory bodies known as subsidence districts were created by the State of Texas to begin lowering the use of groundwater and moving to a larger use of surface water in or...
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What is aerobic treatment?

What is aerobic treatment?

Aerobic water treatment is a method of treating sewage and wastewater by adding oxygen to the waste.  This process encourages naturally occurring bacteria to break down the waste and produce a higher quality effluent that may then be treated with chlorine to remove the remaining bacteria.
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Can I pump water from the river to water my lawn?

In Texas, anyone who wants to use surface water must first get permission from the state, unless they are using the water for one of several “exempt uses” in the Texas Water Code.Some exemptions include domestic and livestock use, wildlife management, and other specified uses (see Texas Water Code Section 11.142 ).Property owners have a right to draw water from a stream or natural water body that crosses or borders their land for domestic and livestock use, which includes watering a ...
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What is a spillway?

A spillway part of a dam that is designed to allow water to flow freely over the dam during floods. Spillways may be used on dams with floodgates as an additional means to control release of water during flooding.  A spillway may also be used as the main area of water release from a dam, allowing water to flow through the spillway only when the reservoir is full.
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What is the Safe Drinking Water Act?

The Safe Drinking Water Act is a federal law passed by Congress in 1974 to protect public health by regulating the nation’s drinking water supply.  Under the direction of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the law regulates the dispersal of chemicals, animal waste, pesticides and other items that contaminate drinking water.In Texas, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) enforces standards that equal or exceed federal standards.
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What is interruptible water?

Interruptible water is water available for contract sale for a specific period, normally a year-to-year basis.  This water is available based on the amount of water in reservoir storage.  Interruptible water is subject to restricted use during water shortages.
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What is a flash flood?

The National Weather Service classifies a flash flood as an overflow of water onto normally dry land caused by heavy or excessive rainfall in a short period of time, generally less than 6 hours.Flash floods are usually characterized by raging torrents after heavy rains that rip through river beds, urban streets, or mountain canyons sweeping everything before them. They can occur within minutes or a few hours of excessive rainfall. They can also occur even if no rain has fallen, for instance afte...
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What is "firm" water?

Firm water is a supply term referring to the specific amount necessary to fully supply an area with water during a repeat of the most severe drought within the historical record.
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What is fecal coliform bacteria?

Fecal coliform bacteria is one of a collection of relatively harmless bacteria that live in the intestines of all warm blooded animals including humans.  These bacteria normally aid in the digestion of food then pass through the intestines as part of fecal waste.When aquatic systems are contaminated by human or animal feces, the fecal coliform bacteria (the most common form being Escherichia coli or E coli) can cause a number of waterborne diseases includi...
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What is dissolved oxygen?

Dissolved oxygen, or DO, is the amount of oxygen in surface water available for aquatic life.Aquatic plants and algae contribute to the presence of dissolved oxygen. Dissolved oxygen is necessary for aquatic species, such as fish and insects, that rely on water for their oxygen intake, absorbing it through their gills or bodies.Dissolved oxygen is an important parameter used in water quality monitoring. The concentration of DO in water is dependent on the temperature of the water. Warm water hol...
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What is the National Flood Insurance Program?

The National Flood Insurance Program is a federal insurance program under which flood-prone areas are identified and flood insurance is made available to residents of participating communities that agree to adopt and enforce floodplain management ordinances to reduce future flood damage.  For additional information and qualification requirements, click here.
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What is the gage height or stage?

The gage height or stage is the height of the water surface above an established datum point, such as in a river above a predetermined point.  The gage height does not represent the depth of the river.
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What is a flood?

A flood is any relatively high streamflow that overflows the natural or artificial banks of a stream.
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What is discharge?

Discharge is the volume of fluid passing a point at a specific point intime, commonly expressed in cubic feet per second, million gallons per day, gallons per minute, or seconds per minute per day.
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What is constant level?

Constant level is a term given to the practice of maintaining a body of water at a specific elevation.  No natural body of water has a constant level.  While some fluctuate more than others, all-natural bodies of water change on a daily basis, some rapidly during floods.Few man-made reservoirs have the ability to be maintained at a constant level as evaporation, drought, water use and/or flooding affect elevation levels. 
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What is cubic foot per second?

The measurement cubic foot per second (cfs or ft3/s) is the rate of water movement representing a volume of 1 cubic foot passing a given point during 1 second.  This measurement is equivalent to approximately 7.48 gallons per second or 448.8 gallons per minute.
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What is bankfull stage?

Bank-full stage is an established river stage at a given location along a river that represents the maximum safe water level that will not overflow the river banks or cause any significant damage within the river reach.
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What is WATER SCHOOL?

You may not realize that your life revolves around water! We use it daily for cooking, bathing, cleaning, and flushing. But, did you know that you can’t live without water?Though you may feel like flesh and bone, your body is made up of more than 60 percent of water. As a result, you can survive for weeks without food; but literally only days without water.Fresh drinking water is a limited resource. As our populations continue to grow, will we have enough for everyone? Becoming aware of how you...
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The information provided on this site is intended as background on water within the Brazos River basin. There should be no expectation that this information is all encompassing, complete or in any way examines every aspect of this very complex natural resource.

If you have questions about a post or would like additional information, please contact us or call 888-922-6272.

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