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Water School

Archive by category: ReservoirsReturn

Why do lake levels fluctuate?

The level of water in all lakes fluctuates, raising during years of higher amounts of rainfall and snowmelt and falling during periods of drought. The Environmental Protection Agency has been measuring the fluctuations of the Great Lakes, the largest natural lakes in the United States, since the 1860s. Similarly, water levels in reservoirs, human-made lakes, fluctuate because of evaporation, a lack of rainfall, water supply use, and water flow requirements. Levels tend to be relatively lower in ...
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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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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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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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Why do you charge a fee to build a dock on the reservoir?

The on-water facility fee to place a dock on a BRA reservoir basically allows the permit holder to build and maintain a permanent structure over BRA property (the lake bed). It also gives the BRA the ability to ensure that the docks that are constructed on the reservoir are safe. The permit fee is not a tax, but a one-time fee.  There are no longer annual fees to maintain a dock on a BRA reservoir.  For an on-water facility permit application, click here.
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If I own lakeside property, can I build a dock on a BRA-owned reservoir?

Lakeside property owners can build docks on a BRA-owned reservoir if they complete an On-Water Facility Permit application and pay the relevant fees for inspection of the facility plans and completed work.  Lake regulations set requirements property owners must meet when building a dock.  Details on these regulations may be found in Section 7 of the BRA regulations.Permit applications may be obtained at each reservoir's office or by going to the appropriate website: Possu...
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Do I need a boating permit on the lake? On the river?

Motorized boats, sailboats extending 14 feet or longer, and vessels documented by the U.S. Coast Guard all must show proof of state registration when operating on Texas public waters, which includes the Brazos River, according to Texas law. This law does not apply to non-motorized rubber rafts, kayaks, punts, rowboats, or other vessels under 14 feet in length that have the ability to be paddled, oared, windblown, or poled. To learn more about water vessel requirements of public Texas waters, cli...
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Why are there federal reservoirs in the Brazos River basin?

The US Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) operates eight flood control reservoirs within the Brazos River basin that, through a contract with the federal government, also serve as water supply impoundments for the Brazos River Authority system of reservoirs.Lakes Proctor, Whitney, Aquilla, Belton, Stillhouse Hollow, Georgetown, Granger, and Somerville store water for use by municipal, agricultural, industrial, and mining use.Similar to the Authority’s three water supply reservoirs, water cont...
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What is Allens Creek Reservoir?

Allens Creek Reservoir is a planned water storage lake permitted for construction on Allens Creek, a tributary of the Brazos River, in Austin County. The permit to build the lake was originally issued to Houston Lighting and Power (Reliant Energy) in 1974 by the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission, now known as the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ).The reservoir was originally to have served as a cooling lake for a nuclear power plant. When Reliant Energy abandoned plan...
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What is a lake's elevation?

The height above mean sea level that water in a reservoir has reached. Brazos River Authority and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers lakes are actually reservoirs, or parts of the Brazos River basin impounded by dams. (A free-flowing river is measured in stages, that is, by depth from the river bed to the surface.)
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What is a water supply lake?

As the name implies, water supply lakes are built primarily to provide a place to store water for Texas residents, communities, businesses, agriculture, industry and others who all depend on water to survive and thrive. Such lakes are especially vital during periods of drought, when other sources of water may be limited.  Many of Texas’ flood control lakes serve a secondary purpose as a water storage facility.  However, reservoirs designed for water supply, do not necessarily also provide flood...
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What is a dam? Are all dams alike?

A dam is a structure designed to hold back water in a lake, river, stream or other waterbody. Large dams typically include gates or other outlet devices that can be raised or lowered, opened or closed to allow variable amounts of water to pass downstream or leave the lake. The path the water takes to leave the reservoir through the gates is called a spillway.There are several styles of dams used for different purposes to meet specific conditions at the dam site.  The design of the dam is in...
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How do you build a lake (reservoir)?

While the process may vary for each location, here’s a general outline of how a reservoir goes from idea to reality.Once a need for water in an area is established, a site for the reservoir must be chosen. Several factors go into this decision, including nearness to a source of demand, a feeder supply of water (such as a river or creek), the geological suitability of the area and engineering constraints. Other factors considered could include impact on the environment, the local population...
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Why are there so many man-made lakes in Texas?

Natural lakes have been a rare commodity in Texas. In fact, the state had only one natural lake, Caddo Lake in East Texas, that was formed by a log jam.  A permanent dam was installed at the lake in the early 20th century.A large number of the state’s remaining lakes were made in response to the occasional propensity of Texas’ usually tranquil rivers to flood during heavy rains.Texas’ early history is filled with accounts of devastating floods causing loss of human life an...
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What is a flood control lake?

The great majority of our lakes (reservoirs) in Texas were built to help tame the state’s rivers and streams, which from time to time would swell beyond their banks and cause devastating floods. Such was the case with the Brazos River. History books record numerous destructive floods took place in the Brazos basin before a series of dams were built along its length to create reservoirs to hold periodic flood waters.
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How deep is my lake?

Periodically, officials conduct surveys of reservoirs within the Brazos River basin to determine each lake’s volume. As part of that work, survey crews determine each lake’s depth (in feet). Do not confuse this measurement with lake level, however.A reservoir’s depth is the distance from the bottom to the top of the conservation pool, the point where the lake is considered full. The lake level is the number of feet the surface is above mean sea level.Surveys use a combinat...
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I’ve heard that reservoirs have a “lifetime.” What does that mean?

Texas streams and rivers are in constant motion and the waters they pour into our reservoirs carry with them a continuous but varying amount of sediment.When the water is slowed or stopped as it runs into a reservoir or by a dam, the sediment drops to the bottom. This sediment builds up year after year and at some point, fills the reservoir to a point it can no longer continue to serve its purpose in flood control or water supply. Without expensive dredging, this would be the end of the res...
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What is a flood pool?

A flood pool is a specified area within a flood control lake and the surrounding land that may only be inundated during periods of flooding. This allows the flow of waters to be regulated and released in a safe manner.
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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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