New to living on the lake? Let us help

New to living on the lake? Let us help

There's information that is helpful to know if you've just moved to a Brazos River Authority water supply reservoir. 

Welcome to lake life! 

Have you watched the magical colors of a sunset across the water? Or perhaps the lake has called your name from a boat, jet ski, or paddle board. 

There are countless opportunities to create lasting memories on Possum Kingdom Lake, Lake Limestone, or Lake Granbury - from beating your personal record fishing to enjoying a cool swim on a hot day.

There are also a few important aspects to remember. 

Image by Robin Burns Schmidt
Image by Robin Burns Schmidt

For instance, the water levels at Possum Kingdom Lake, Lake Granbury and Lake Limestone will fluctuate for several reasons, so you should not assume the lake is the same today as it was last week. Changes in rainfall, water use and evaporation can cause the lake level to waver throughout the year. Learn more about why lake levels fluctuate in our informational video here.

All three BRA lakes are water supply reservoirs, meaning they capture and store water during plentiful rainfall so that there is available water to meet everyday needs during times of drought. 

While recreation is a secondary benefit, this water is stored for municipalities, agriculture, industry, mining, and more through a state permitting process.

So, treat it well. It is, after all, the source of a lot of people's drinking water after it's cleaned.

That means don't do things like rake or blow all the leaves, grass clippings, debris and pet droppings from your yard into the water. 

Be careful in applying fertilizers to your lawn. Be sure to follow the manufacturer's instructions since applying too much will wash fertilizer into the lake and encourage aquatic plants to grow near the shoreline. Fertilizer also encourages algal growth that can cause the water supply to smell and taste funny, even after it's been treated for drinking purposes.   

Also, be aware that it is against the law to spray herbicides or pesticides on or around docks on water supply reservoirs. If you have issues with aquatic plants, spiders or insects, contact someone specially licensed to apply these items over water. 

Properly maintaining septic systems at your home, regularly servicing boat motors, and properly constructing and maintaining boat houses, docks, and pumps are important to keep the lake hazard-free. Plus, it's important to help keep the waters a healthy environment for all aquatic life.

Living on or near a BRA reservoir has both privileges and perks, but it also comes with a couple of responsibilities. 

Residential-use water permit

The Brazos River Authority offers lakeside homeowners the option of purchasing an annual Residential Water Use Permit to water their landscaping and lawn. 

A residential-use water permit allows lakeside property owners to install water pumps and pipelines to access untreated water supply from the reservoir for irrigation purposes. The permit allows for up to 60,000 gallons of water to be drawn annually. However, as water levels vary, pump equipment may need to be moved to maintain continuous access to the water supply. Access is not guaranteed in all circumstances.

Residential improvement permit

Docks are allowed on Brazos River Authority reservoirs; however, as they reside over BRA-owned property (the lakebed and water), a permit is required to ensure safety for all who utilize the facilities.

A residential improvement permit allows lakeside property owners to improve the area adjacent to their property, including constructing a retaining wall along the shoreline, dredging the lake bottom under a dock, removing stumps from the lake bottom, and performing maintenance to an existing boat dock. There is a one-time $75 fee for this permit and no annual fee.

The forms, fees, and proposed facility sketches (if requesting a new on-water facility) may be delivered in person to the appropriate Lake Office from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Lake Office staff will be happy to assist you in calculating any of the required fees or answering questions regarding the application process. Construction may not begin until the permit has been approved and returned to you. 

Because repair or general work on docks often requires water access, the BRA requires dock repair and construction companies to obtain a permit to work on the water. You may receive an up-to-date list of contractors with current permits by calling the lake office.


The Brazos River Authority serves as the local agent for the state of Texas in issuing permits for on-site sewage facilities or septic systems for Possum Kingdom Lake and Lake Limestone; however, Lake Granbury's on-site sewage facility licenses are available through Hood County.

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality maintains a site with information about septic systems, including state regulations. It offers a search engine to help you find a licensed on-site sewage facility installation professional in your area. To access the site, click here.

To access any of the permit forms or to learn more information, go here:

Downstream notifications

The BRA also offers the opportunity to know when the lakes are releasing large amounts of water, whether you're on Lake Granbury and want to know what's coming from Possum Kingdom Lake, or when you're wanting to know when not to be in the river below the dam.

Through an automation system, the BRA is able to send a text, email, and/or phone call to anyone signed up to receive an alert. 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. 

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.

And if you want to stay up to date on what the BRA is working on, there's a quarterly newsletter you can sign up for here: https://brazos.org/Newsletter

Free Maps!

The Brazos River Authority also has free maps of the reservoirs available by request. Just email information@brazos.org with your mailing address for your copy.