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Water School

What is primary amebic meningoencephalitis (PAM)?

Primary Amebic Meningoencephalitis, or PAM, is a disease caused by the ameba Naegleria fowleri. It infects humans when water containing this ameba enters the body through the nostrils, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services.  The infected water travels to the brain through the nose, destroying brain tissue. While rare, PAM affects 1 to 3 people in the U.S. every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. PAM is usually fatal. Early symptoms of PAM...
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How can I conserve water?

Curious as to how you can both save money and save water for tomorrow and the generations of the future? Here are some ways in your everyday life that you and your family can conserve water in your home, according to the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection:Outdoors: Instead of a hose, try washing your car with a bucket. Use a pool cover to lower the rate of evaporation when the pool is not being used. Rather than hosing off, try sweeping sidewalks, steps, and driveways ins...
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Why should I conserve water?

Conserving water can be one of the easiest and most effective ways to positively impact our environment as well as our communities. Water conservation can take a variety of forms and each of them is important in the process of preserving one of the Earth’s most valuable resources.Though water amounts are limited, demand is rising as the world’s population grows. Projections show that by 2060, the Brazos River basin will not have enough water to meet that growing deman...
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Why is conservation important?

Water conservation is especially important in Texas because the state has experienced periods of droughts since the Texas government first began recording droughts in 1870.The most recent intense drought happened between 2010 and 2015. This drought was defined as an exceptional drought characterized by exceptional and widespread crop loss, seafood, forestry, tourism, and agriculture sectors reporting significant financial loss and areas experiencing extreme s...
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Has golden algae been found in the Brazos River basin?

Yes, golden algae is present in parts of the basin year round. However, the great majority of the time it is at such a level that it has not caused a threat to fish in a few years. Golden alga, or Prymnesium parvum, a naturally occurring alga that can have a devastating effect on fish, persists in small amounts throughout the year in the Brazos River basin, according to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. Texas is the only known place known to date that deals with golden alga inla...
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What laws in Texas apply to septic systems?

With a few exceptions, a permit is required to install a septic system in Texas. The Legislature, in the Health and Safety Code, designates the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) as the official agent to investigate and decide whether to approve a permit request.The commission is also tasked with overseeing whether the septic tanks continue to function properly and the Commission can require the property owner make repairs when needed.However, the law allows the Commission to desig...
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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 datum?

Datum is the basis for relating a river's stage to mean sea level. (datum + stage = elevation in feet above mean sea level)
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Is rainwater harvesting legal in Texas?

Rainwater harvesting is both legal and encouraged in the state of Texas. Multiple laws support the collection of rainwater by both private and public entities. For example, Texas Property Code prevents homeowners associations in the state from prohibiting rainwater harvesting systems for personal use. Additionally, Texas requires new state facilities to add rainwater harvesting systems in their designs, according to the Texas Water Development Board.Rain Barrel    Here are so...
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What is unappropriated water?

Unappropriated water is the state water remaining in a watercourse that is available for appropriation (ie permitting) under the rules of TCEQ.  Or in other words, it is the amount of water that could be available for use from a water source after all existing water rights have been fully taken into account.
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What is an adjudicated water permit?

Over the past 200 years of Texas history, the state has experienced several different laws governing the use of surface water. These differing laws often created conflict in water rights claims. In 1967, the Texas Legislature directed the predecessor agency of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) to clarify this system and classify Texas water rights by Certificates of Adjudication. These certificates were each assigned a priority date based on when the water use first occurred.
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What is a term permit?

A term permit is a water permit issued by the State of Texas usually to industry, mining or agricultural enterprise for a specific amount of water that will be available for specific amount of time (usually 10 years).  This permit does not have a priority date nor is it considered to be a property right and is subject to non-renewal or cancellation at the end of the term.
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What is a perpetual water right?

A perpetual water right (also called a Certificate of Adjudication) is a permit issued by the State of Texas that does not have an expiration date.  It specifies a volume of water that may be used on an annual basis.  This water may be used for consumptive purposes or may be stored and consumptively used on an annual basis.The permit specifies a priority date for use but does not guarantee that water will always be available.  Perpetual rights are considered property interests and may be bought,...
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What is wildlife management?

A wildlife management exemption to Texas water rights allows property owners to build and maintain a dam or reservoir of not more than 200 acre-feet of water on qualified open-space land for the purpose of providing water to indigenous wildlife.
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What is "domestic and livestock" use?

Domestic and Livestock use is available only to those whose property adjoins a stream or river.  This use is for water utilized by livestock, household needs and to irrigate a yard or home garden.  This same exemption to Texas water rights allows property owners to impound or store water in stock tanks on larger than 200 acre-feet of storage volume.
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Must I obtain permission to use Texas surface water?

Yes, permission is required in order to ensure that there is enough water for all in need.  The state has established procedures and requirements for obtaining access to state surface water.  Water use may be sought through application for a state permit through the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) or through the contract purchase of water from an already permitted entity.The Brazos River Authority holds numerous state issued permits for water use and provides this water to other...
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What is Texas Water Planning?

Water planning in Texas is the process where officials take a long-term look at Texas’ water needs and how to meet them. The current method of water planning stems from the passage of Senate Bill 1 by the 75th Texas Legislature in 1997. This bill set its goals providing for the development, management, and conservation of water resources and preparation for responding to drought conditions.The planning process takes place to ensure that sufficient water will be available at a reasonable co...
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What is non-point source pollution?

Non-point source pollution are harmful substances that occur as a result of human activities over a wide area rather than from one specific location. These include forms of diffuse pollution caused by sediment, nutrients, organic and toxic substances that wash off city streets, plowed fields or other developed areas. The pollution is carried to lakes and streams by runoff.  Examples of non-point source pollution are oil and gas that leak from cars and trucks onto the pavement or over a...
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Why are some lakes/rivers clearer than others?

There are a number of factors that may affect water clarity.  The chief factor in the clarity of lakes and rivers in Texas is sediment. The more sediment in a stream or body of water, the cloudier it appears. This factor can vary depending on geography and climate. Some areas naturally have more sediment drawn from the surrounding land, particularly agricultural areas, where soil is often broken up and exposed. Water tends to be cloudier during rainier seasons when runoff carries topsoil and oth...
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What are invasive plants?

Invasive plants are non-native, typically exotic plants that thrive when introduced into areas where they have no predators or disease control. They quickly reproduce and grow unchecked, crowding out native species that use the same habitat. Some examples of invasive plants in Texas include the Chinaberry tree, running bamboo, and kudzu vine.Invasive water plants have a direct impact on Texas lakes.  Plants such as giant salvinia, a floating plant native to Brazil, are especially harmful as...
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What is golden algae?

Golden algae is a naturally occurring microscopic algae that typically occurs in brackish water. Blooms of this algae can produce toxins that are lethal to fish and bivalves (mussels and clams). There is no evidence the toxins produced by golden algae are harmful to humans, livestock or wildlife.  It characteristically appears as brownish or tea-colored water.If you see dead or dying fish on a Brazos River Authority reservoir, a golden algae bloom may be the cause. Please help us ...
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What are algae?

Algae are photosynthetic organisms that may be found in water. There are many types of alga and any number of the different types may exist in one waterbody at the same time.
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What is mgd?

MGD or million gallons per day is a measurement of water flow frequently used in measurement of water consumption. One mgd equals 133,680.56 cubic feet per day, 1.5472 cubic feet per second or 3.0689 acre-feet per day.
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What is a gaging station?

A gaging station is a site on a stream, lake, reservoir or other body of water where observations and hydrologic data such as gage height and stream discharge are obtained.
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What is chlorination?

Chlorine is one of the elements known as halogens that are commonly used in bleach.  It is used in potable water treatment plants to eliminate bacteria and to minimize odor and taste.The amount of chlorine needed to purify drinking water is known as the chlorine demand.
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What is filtration?

Filtration is the process of separating solids from water during the potable treatment process using a porous material such as a permeable fabric called a membrane or by using sand.
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What is potable water treatment?

Potable water treatment is the process to purify water to make it acceptable to drink.  Most water treatment processes include some form or a combination of sedimentation, filtration, and chlorination.To view an illustration of the potable water treatment process at the East Williamson County Regional Water System, click here.
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What is raw water?

Raw water is ground or surface water that is taken directly from its source without treatment. Typically, most water is considered to be raw until it is treated by a potable water treatment process.
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What are storm sewers?

Separate from sanitary water lines or wastewater sewers, storm sewers carry away surface rain runoff, street wash and snow melt via curb-side drains.  Also unlike sanitary sewers, these systems usually drain directly into a creek, river, or other body of water without treatment.  This is also how a lot of the trash ends up in our rivers and lakes.  Everything thrown out in the street or dumped in a street drain (storm drain) ends up in a nearby river or lake.Dumping hazardous substances into the...
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Where does effluent go once it leaves the treatment plant?

Wastewater treatment plants are typically located near creeks and rivers.  The treated effluent is returned to the water cycle by being released into these waterways.  As water sources become less abundant, many municipalities have chosen not to release effluent into the water cycle; rather to reuse the effluent for irrigation and industrial purposes directly from the water discharged from the treatment plant.
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What is greywater?

Greywater is wastewater from household or small commercial establishments that includes water from clothes washing machines, showers and bathtubs, and sinks used for hand washing.  Greywater does not include water from the kitchen sink used for the cleaning of food and from toilets, dishwashers, or water used for washing diapers.In some areas, greywater may be released into the environment without going through a treatment process. Texas laws prohibit the release of greywater into or near l...
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What is a wastewater treatment plant?

A wastewater treatment plant is a system used to clean wastewater generated within municipal areas.  Most wastewater treatment plants utilize aerobic forms of cleaning water and removing waste so that water may be returned to the water cycle.At the treatment plant, the waste is separated into liquids that are purified and solid sludge that may be used in a number of recycling systems or taken to land fills.
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What is a septic system?

A septic system is an on-site means of treating and disposing of domestic sewage without sending it to a municipal water treatment system. A septic system receives the waste from a home or business and uses an anaerobic method of breaking down the waste in a manner that will not harm people or the environment.A typical system includes a tank that allows the decomposition of solids by naturally occurring bacteria as well as a set of lines or a pit to dispose of the effluent or liquid. Anaerobic b...
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Where does the water go after I wash my clothes, take a bath or flush my toilet?

Where wastewater goes once you are no longer using it depends on whether your plumbing is connected to a private septic system or a public sewage line.A septic system is normally used for wastewater treatment in areas where public sewage service is not available, such as rural areas.  In areas where public sewage treatment is available, homes are usually linked to the public system by pipelines that take waste to a wastewater treatment plant that serves an area.
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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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