Brazos River Watershed

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Brazos River Watershed

Look down.

There, below you, is a watershed.

Simply put, a watershed is a region or area bounded by a divide, like an oddly-shaped bowl with sloping sides, where rainfall slowly drains downward toward an outlet. Watersheds may start out flat, allowing trickles of water to settle into ponds, creeks and streams, gaining speed and movement as the slope increases.

A watershed consists of surface water, like lakes, streams, reservoirs, and wetlands, and groundwater. Larger watersheds, like the Brazos, can even contain smaller watersheds. There are 14 sub-watersheds within the Brazos River basin, even more micro watersheds.

Watersheds are important as the streamflow and water quality of a river like the Brazos are affected by the daily events happening on the land it washes over.

All along the mighty Brazos River’s path, water joins into the procession through the state, moving downstream toward the Gulf of Mexico. Each environment the water passes through, whether natural or man-made, has an effect on the cleanliness and health of the river. For example, a heavy rainfall on a large parking area increases the risk of flooding by rushing over concrete toward storm drains without grass, brush and trees to slow its flow. Along with it, that same storm washes puddles of leaked motor oil and fluids that once stained the blacktop along with discarded trash into our waterways, slowly polluting our drinking water system.

The Brazos River watershed stretches from New Mexico to the Gulf of Mexico. The basin originates about 50 miles west of the Texas-New Mexico border, launching a watershed that stretches 1,050 miles and comprises 44,620 square miles, 42,000 of which are in Texas.

The Brazos River Authority’s environmental services team conducts comprehensive water quality and biological monitoring, analysis, and data management across the watershed to provide scientific information on the health of the watershed. That data is used to develop and put into place programs to maintain and improve the environmental health throughout the Brazos River basin.

But what makes a watershed healthy?

A healthy watershed is one that has enough water, food, shelter, and other resources to help all living in its boundaries to survive – from people to plants, animals, and insects. It provides a balance of clean water, soil and air.

A healthy watershed can potentially benefit you in several, normally unseen ways. They are necessary for virtually all high-quality outdoor recreation involving the use of lakes or rivers, according to the EPA.

Great fishing opportunities are usually due to healthy watersheds and water. Surface water that is sent to storage as a source for drinking water is substantially less expensive to treat for human consumption if it originates from a healthy, pollution-free watershed. And, as a bonus, property values could be higher living next to healthy waters versus impaired waters.

Find out what watershed you live in by clicking here. Contact your local county leaders or check with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality about watershed groups where you might participate in helping keep our waters clean.