Texas Gov. Greg Abbott declared a state of disaster due to drought conditions in 17 counties.
The counties include: Bandera, Bell, Blanco, Burnet, Karnes, Kendall, Kinney, Llano, Maverick, McCulloch, Medina, Real, Uvalde, Val Verde, Williamson, Zapata, and Zavala. Three of these are in the Brazos River basin.
In a Jan. 3 statement, Abbott said significantly low rainfall and prolonged dry conditions continue to increase the threat of wildfire across these portions of the state. The drought conditions pose an imminent threat to public health, property, and the economy, Abbott said.
Drought may not be at the forefront of many people’s minds as light showers have scattered the Brazos River basin. And memories of the wetter-than-normal spring may taint our ideas toward how dry the land around us is.
However, as of Jan. 16, 50% of the Brazos River basin was facing some level of drought.
A trend toward gradual improvement continued across the U.S., and drought even eased in most of the southeast, across California and Nevada, and through parts of central and southern Texas. However, across the deep south and eastern portions of Texas, conditions deteriorated, according to the U.S Weather Service Climate Prediction Center.
A drought is generally considered 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.
Much of Texas needs anywhere from three to six inches of rain to bring conditions back to normal.
Despite drought conditions, the Brazos River Authority water supply reservoirs remain 92% full.
The BRA System includes 11 reservoirs, of which, three are owned and operated by the BRA. The concept behind water supply reservoirs is to capture and store water during times of rain for use when the rain stops or slows. As a wholesale water provider, the BRA relies on those reservoirs to ensure residents, municipalities, farmers and industry have water even during the most severe drought conditions. Therefore, BRA staff monitor weather conditions and reservoir statuses continually during drier periods.
Heavy rain in the short-term could eliminate spotty drought in northeastern Texas, according to the U.S. Seasonal Drought Outlook. However, drought will persist or intensify across central and south Texas.
As dry conditions continue across the state, 90 counties have enacted burn bans as of Jan. 8, according to the Texas A&M Forrest Service.
Everyone can do their part to help conserve water. Drought remains a certainty and small changes on every person’s part go a long way to ensuring we protect the water resources of the Brazos River basin.
Paying attention to burn bans is continually vital.
The BRA’s reservoir projections and current drought information specific to the BRA system, can be found here.
Meanwhile, Abbott also extended the disaster declaration due to results from a hurricane.
The governor extended the disaster declaration in December for those counties affected by Hurricane Harvey due to the catastrophic damages.