Drought prevents 2023 interruptible water availability

Drought prevents 2023 interruptible water availability

With continued drought conditions and exceptionally low reservoir inflows, the Brazos River Authority Board of Directors, at its meeting Nov. 14, 2022, voted to not authorize the availability of Interruptible Water for calendar year 2023.  

Interruptible Water graphic from Board meeting

Interruptible Water is water supply not used in the previous year that remains in storage, said BRA Water Services Manager Aaron Abel. Interruptible Water contracts are one-year agreements issued annually when water is available. The Board determines at the end of each year the amount, if any, of Interruptible Water available for contract the following calendar year. Roughly 56,700 acre-feet of water was made available in 2022.

However, during the past year, drought conditions have dominated the basin. The combined total volume of inflows into the BRA water supply system is comparable to, or less than, other drought years experienced over the last three decades, including the record drought of 2011, Abel said. 

The BRA water supply system is currently about 71% full and remains under a Stage 1 Drought Watch. Worst-case projections currently show the BRA water supply system reaching Stage 3 Drought Emergency by the end of 2023 if drought conditions persist.  It is possible that neutral conditions of La Nina may enter the picture in Spring 2023 which may usher in a transition away from drought conditions.   

The Board resolved that, should the weather break and rainfall return, they may reconsider reinstating Interruptible Water contracts at some point during the 2023 calendar year. 

Also, during the meeting, the Board passed a resolution to officially rename the BRA Waco Central Office the Phillip J. Ford Central Office Facilities.

“Phil built the building that you’re sitting in,” GM/CEO David Collinsworth told the Board of Directors during the meeting. “Phil contributed his entire life to the people of the United States of America.”

Ford, a Fort Worth native, joined the BRA in 2001 as General Manager/CEO following his retirement from the US Air Force, where he’d learned his leadership skills during a 35-year career that ended with his rank of lieutenant general. Though he had no prior background in water management, Ford worked tirelessly, reorganizing the BRA and completing major projects for the organization, including the completion of the Williamson County Regional Raw Water Line to meet the water supply needs of the state capital’s northern suburbs, the divestiture of the Possum Kingdom Lake residential and commercial leased properties, and the decommissioning of the PK Hydropower Plant. 

Lt. Gen. Phillip J. Ford

Most importantly, Ford oversaw the addition of a groundbreaking new System Operation Permit, the first of its kind for the State of Texas, allowing existing water permits to be used more efficiently while accessing previously untapped return flows into the Brazos River, making existing water supply available without the need to build a reservoir.

During his 17 years of service to the BRA, he became a major force in the Texas water industry, serving as the Texas Water Conservation Association president in 2013. He retired in April 2018 and passed away in May 2021.

Also at the meeting, the Board:

  • authorized the general manager to dispose of surplus property.
  • approved revisions to the BRA’s human resources policy manual as presented at the meeting, and 
  • set the 2023 Board meeting dates as:
    • Jan. 30, 2023
    • March 27, 2023
    • May 22, 2023
    • July 31, 2023
    • Sept. 25, 2023
    • Nov. 13, 2023

The next Brown Bag on the Brazos virtual public meeting will be held Thursday, February 9, 2023 at noon. In the meantime, for updates on BRA current projects, go here.  For information on the current drought situation, see our drought update videos here.

For a complete list of Board actions from the meeting, go here. Or watch the full board meeting here. Sign up for to receive email Board meeting notices here.

Still have questions? Email information@brazos.org.