Lake Proctor has become the first water supply reservoir in the Brazos River Basin to hit the trigger for the worst drought category under the Brazos River Authority's Drought Contingency Plan during this drought cycle.
On Wednesday, August 16, the Brazos River Authority announced that Lake Proctor had reached the Stage 4 – Pro Rata Curtailment level. The reservoir dropped below its Stage 4 trigger level of 1,150.1 feet mean sea level. The BRA's Drought Contingency Plan has four conditions, or stages, ranging from 1-4 in severity. Each stage is tied to a corresponding reservoir level, storage, or when appropriate, the Palmer Hydrologic Drought Index (PHDI) level.
"At this time, the Stage 4 Pro-Rata amount at Lake Proctor will be a 30% curtailment of water for the customers that would have occurred in the absence of any drought contingency measures," BRA Water Services Manager Aaron Abel said. He added that the Pro Rata amount may be adjusted if drought conditions continue to advance.
Lake Proctor, located in Comanche, Texas, is the surface water supply for Upper Leon River Municipal Water District, a wholesale municipal water provider. The lake also supplies water for several agricultural irrigators, including Area 1 Water Company, LLC, North Leon River Irrigation Corporation, and the Lake Proctor Irrigation Authority.
Municipalities and other treated water suppliers establish their own sets of water conservation measures based on their respective water supply and water distribution conditions, said Peyton Lisenby, Ph.D. BRA water resources planner.
The last time the lake was full was September 2021, or 22 months ago. Lake Proctor reached the Stage 1 Drought Watch trigger in March 2022. Then in August 2022, the lake hit Stage 2 Drought Warning. It was then in October 2022 that the reservoir hit Stage 3 Drought Emergency.
"It doesn't look like we'll see any respite in drought conditions over the next two weeks," Lisenby said. "Of course, we're hopeful that as we transition into what typically are wetter months in the fall, we'll see replenishing rainfall. But regardless of when the rain comes, the BRA water supply system continues to operate as intended, meeting the needs of our water users."
The last and only other time Lake Proctor hit Stage 4 was in January 2015 during that basin-wide drought.
Construction of the Proctor Dam, located on the Leon River in Comanche County, started in June 1960 and was placed in operation in 1963.
Under Stage 4 Pro Rata Curtailment, the general process under which the BRA will make water available is in accordance with Texas Water Code §11.039. BRA has been meeting with its customers to determine measures to reduce water use and extend available supplies within the reservoir.
Evaporation and water use are taking a toll on all the reservoirs, Abel said. Water conservation remains as important as ever.
"Everything we can do to save water now can help extend the life of the water supply still stored in the reservoirs," he said.
The BRA continually monitors weather forecasts, streamflow, and lake levels throughout the Brazos River basin. All Brazos River Authority system reservoirs are under some level of the Drought Contingency Plan. Those lakes include Belton, Stillhouse Hollow, Possum Kingdom, Granbury, Limestone, Georgetown, Whitney, Aquila, Granger, and Somerville.
There are three lakes within the BRA Water Supply System that are in Stage 2 Drought Warning – read more about that here.
A copy of the Brazos River Authority's Drought Contingency Plan can be found here www.brazos.org/DCP or by contacting the BRA at (254) 761-3100.
For biweekly video drought updates on the basin, go here.
For more information on how you can conserve water go to www.Brazos.org/Conservation.