Dry 2020 reflected in water use

Dry 2020 reflected in water use

The Brazos River Authority released its 2020 Customer Water Use and Reservoir Accounting Summary.

BRA staff annually compiles data from the calendar year and releases how much water is used, by whom, and where among other details. The data is displayed in a graphic for comprehensive representation and includes water supply use by BRA long and short-term users.


“It’s a useful tool, said BRA Water Services Manager Aaron Abel.  “It houses a great deal of good information about our customers’ water use and all the components that make up the mass balance of the system as far as inflows and releases, and how water is moved from one reservoir to the next,”

The BRA is responsible for providing water to municipalities, industry, agriculture, and mining within the Brazos basin. Those who use the water include cities, water districts, water supply corporations, agricultural users, irrigators, steam electric generating facilities, manufacturing entities, and mining operations.

The newly released reservoir accounting summary presents an easy-to-understand graphic representation of the water supply within each reservoir, including inflows, supply use, environmental releases, and representation of the amount of water lost to evaporation for the 2020 calendar year.

Data from last year was similar to 2018 in that they were both dry years and had very similar total water use numbers for the BRA System as a whole, unlike 2019, which was an average year, Abel said.

The document shows the factors that attributed to the loss or gain of water for each of the 11 reservoirs comprising the BRA System, which are 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, with the BRA contracting with the federal government for storage of water in these reservoirs.  The BRA was the first state agency in the United States created specifically to develop and manage the water resources of an entire river basin.

In 2020, the total water use in the BRA System was 288,968 acre-feet, the highest it’s been the past seven years. 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.


            Total water use in the BRA System over previous years includes:

  • 264,454 acre-feet in 2019
  • 284,268 acre-feet in 2018
  • 252,987 acre-feet in 2017
  • 226,348 acre-feet in 2016
  • 242,721 acre-feet in 2015
  • 255,946 acre-feet in 2014

Also in 2020, roughly 52% of the water use was for municipal purposes, while 41% went to industrial uses, 6% was used for irrigation, and 1% was for mining.

More than 540,200 acre-feet of water was lost to evaporation in 2020.

Last year, more than 822,600 acre-feet of water flowed into Lake Granbury from rivers and tributaries, surface runoff, releases from upstream reservoirs, and rain that fell directly on top of the reservoir. At Possum Kingdom Lake last year, almost 573,000 acre-feet of water made its way into the reservoir, and almost 357,000 acre-feet entered Lake Limestone.

For more information, or to see past year’s reservoir accounting summaries, go here.