The latest two-month Brazos River Authority water supply projections were released Sept. 7 illustrating how, if the drought persists, at least one lake may find itself in a Stage 3 Drought Emergency.
Projected reservoir status
At the first of the month during times of drought, BRA hydrologists produce a series of graphics designed to help the public understand forecasted reservoir drawdowns. Droughts, after all, can affect every household. Therefore, water conservation efforts are important for everyone to learn and practice. This practice began as a result of the basin’s drought experience in 2011 and has continued as a way to help anyone monitor the progression of a drought and potentially prepare a response to potential water supply shortages.
Currently, the BRA system of reservoirs is in a System Stage 1 Drought Watch, which was initially declared Aug. 11, 2022. Essentially, the combined water supply storage of all 11 reservoirs dropped below a trigger level outlined in the BRA’s Drought Contingency Plan, which prompted the notice. The goal of the System Stage 1 Drought Watch is a voluntary reduction of 5% of water use and to bring awareness of the developing drought situation.
Of the 11 reservoirs, 10 individually are in a Stage 1 Drought Watch. Those reservoirs include lakes Possum Kingdom, Granbury, Limestone, Whitney, Aquilla, Belton, Stillhouse Hollow, Georgetown, Granger, and Somerville. Meanwhile, Lake Proctor has been in a Stage 2 Drought Warning since Aug. 2, 2022.
Projections show that if the Brazos River basin receives a normal (for this time of year) amount of water into its lakes, as well as experiences a normal (for this time of year) amount of evaporation, then by Oct. 31 the System Stage 1 Drought Watch will no longer be in effect. However, each lake within the basin will remain in its own Stage 1 drought watch, with Lake Proctor remaining at Stage 2. The projection also shows the total amount of water in the BRA water supply system will increase to 79%. It is currently at 78%.
It may not seem like much now, but any improvement in drought conditions can go a long way, and it’s ultimately what we’re hoping to see. Small victories are still victories.
So that’s best-case scenario. What happens if conditions don’t fare as well?
Projected reservoir status
The recently released projections reveal that by Oct. 31, if the Brazos River basin only receives minimum inflows into the lakes and high evaporation rates, Lake Proctor will be forced to move to a Stage 3 Drought Emergency as it will only be 42% full. This will prompt a 20% reduction in water use by those who contract for water from that reservoir. The projection also states the BRA water supply system as a whole will drop to 69%.
We’re all, clearly, hoping for rain.
“We want to be able to stretch the existing supply as long as possible,” Aaron Abel, BRA water services manager, has previously said. “We don’t really know how long a drought is going to last. Just like every flood is different from every other flood, every drought is different from every other drought.”
Once the rain stops, there’s no way to refill the reservoirs tasked with supplying water to countless Texans.
To view these projections, go here.
To view the BRA’s Drought Contingency Plan, go here.
And if you’d like to watch our hydrologists speak more about the drought, go to our YouTube page here.