Those downstream of any of the three Brazos River Authority reservoirs have a more tech-friendly way of signing up to receive notifications of large releases from the dams.
For decades, the BRA has offered a way for members of the public to sign up to receive notifications of gate changes at each of its three reservoirs: Possum Kingdom Lake, Lake Granbury and Lake Limestone. What was once done by filling out a paper form that had to be mailed to a Lake Office, can now be done online.
Through an automation system called Blackboard Connect, the BRA is able to send a text, email, and/or a phone call to anyone signed up to receive an alert regarding the opening of floodgates. Individuals interested in receiving notifications can customize when and how often they receive a downstream notification from the call system. For instance, a person can sign up and select to receive alerts only when 15,000 cubic feet per second or higher is released from Lake Granbury’s DeCordova Bend Dam. Or a person can choose to be notified at all levels of release at Lake Limestone’s Sterling C. Robertson Dam.
And since every gate opening at Possum Kingdom Lake’s Morris Sheppard Dam generates a large release downstream, a person can sign up for all or none of those release updates. The gates at Possum Kingdom Lake are an “all or none” type release, unlike the other two reservoirs, which have the ability for incremental releases. The COC (controlled outlet conduit) at Possum Kingdom Lake fully opened only releases 3,000 cfs and therefore is considered a low-flow release, not warranting an alert. In addition, the watershed between Possum Kingdom Lake and Lake Granbury on average is fairly shallow, allowing for that slight bump in flow.
Each BRA reservoir has an alert horn that sounds at the dam prior to a gate opening, alerting those fishing downstream of an imminent gate opening.
The Brazos River Authority will, of course, continue its practice of keeping its website homepage – brazos.org – updated with real-time information regarding the current release rate from each of its three dams. BRA employees also will continue its practice of posting release-change information on its Facebook page and Twitter account.
The alerts – which have been in place since before Lake Limestone’s creation - are not meant to serve as a flood warning system. Texas’ weather can change in an instant, and its vital everyone is prepared when enjoying our waterway. It remains every person’s responsibility to monitor local news outlets, National Weather Service broadcasts, and other information to remain fully aware of potentially hazardous conditions.
Each of the three reservoirs owned and operated by the BRA were built for water supply. Therefore, as much water as possible is kept in each reservoir to ensure the water is available to meet a wide range of needs. Water supply is used to generate the electricity that lights our homes and businesses and to supply thirsty cities with drinking water. The precious resource is also essential for agriculture, industry and mining. Part of maintaining each structure, and prolonging the life of each dam, is ensuring water doesn’t flow over any of these structures. Therefore, during times of heavy rain, water must be released when the reservoir becomes full to prevent damage to these vital and massive structures.
Many factors are considered in determining from which location water supply releases are made. These can include current lake levels, the amount of water flowing into the lakes, the amount of water being used locally from the lakes, the travel time for released water to reach its destination, and the amount of water that would be lost to evaporation or absorbed by the stream channel.
Ultimately, these release decisions are made to maximize the beneficial use of the water supplies while seeking to balance adverse impacts.
And if you’re going to be downstream of a dam, whether herding cattle, enjoying the sun on a dock, canoeing the river for the first or 100th time, fishing, or simply exploring the banks, stay informed of your surroundings.
Those interested in signing up for the downstream notification call list can fill out a form here.