The weather in 2019 highlighted the extreme conditions that can exist within the state of Texas.
And yet despite that, water use across the Brazos River basin was simply average.
“Last year, we really had two different extremes,” said BRA Water Services Manager Aaron Abel. “The first half of the year was very wet, and the second half was very dry. And yet, the total averaged out was a very average year. Our use was pretty consistent with our use over the last several years.”
Each year Brazos River Authority staff compiles data from the calendar year highlighting how much water is used, by whom, where, and more.
The graphic is a comprehensive representation of water supply use by BRA long and short-term users. The document also presents an easy to understand graphic representation of the water supply within each reservoir, including inflows, water supply use, environmental releases, and representation of the amount of water lost to evaporation for the 2019 calendar year.
The document shows the factors that contributed to the loss or gain of water for each of the 11 reservoirs comprising the BRA System, which is scattered across the 42,000-square-mile river basin. Three of the man-made reservoirs were built, and are owned and operated, by the BRA: Possum Kingdom Lake, Lake Granbury and Lake Limestone. The other eight are owned and operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers: lakes Proctor, Whitney, Aquilla, Belton, Stillhouse Hollow, Georgetown, Granger, and Somerville. The BRA contracts with the federal government to store water supply in these eight flood-control reservoirs for the beneficial use of municipal, industrial, agricultural and mining interests within the Brazos River basin. BRA also holds water rights to use the water supply in each of the 11 reservoirs within the BRA System.
In 2019, the total water use in the BRA System was 264,454 acre-feet. An acre-foot is the amount of water needed to cover one acre (43,560 square feet) with one foot of water. One acre-foot is equal to 325,851 gallons of water.
Also in 2019, roughly 47% of the water use was for municipal purposes, while 46% went to industrial uses, 5% was used for irrigation and 2% was for mining.
More than 458,000 acre-feet of water was lost to evaporation in 2019.
Abel said if the Brazos River basin hadn’t received the rain and associated runoff early in the year, water usage would have been much higher. If the year had seen a dry spring, the reservoirs would have had to make more downstream water supply releases for customers and water holders.
“Fortunately, last year we had the wet first half of the year that provided increased streamflow, before we entered into drought conditions,” he said.
For more information and to view past year’s reservoir accounting summaries, go here.