High usage and drought impacts have forced a Stage 2 Drought Warning for customers accessing potable drinking water from the East Williamson County Regional Water System (EWCRWS).
This move comes after a trigger set by the Brazos River Authority’s Drought Contingency Plan was met in late August 2023.
“What they are using out of the plant is reaching a total daily water consumption of 90% of the regional water system’s production capacity for a period of 30 consecutive days,” said Amy Muttoni, BRA’s regional government and customer relation manager for the central and lower basin.
Stage 2 requires a 10% reduction in water use from customers that would have occurred in the absence of any drought contingency measures.
“Once it rains, people’s usage will back off. Once it gets cold outside, and people quit watering, it will back off,” she said. “But until then, we need people to enact water conservation measures.”
Customers who receive water include the city of Taylor, Lone Star Regional Water Authority, and Jonah Water Special Utility District. These entities provide water to customers in eastern Williamson County and a small portion of southern Bell County.
The BRA reminds everyone that these extreme drought conditions are impacting water supplies and urges everyone to do their part by implementing conservation measures as directed by their water provider.
The plan has four stages for the EWCRWS, ranging from 1 to 4 in level of severity.
• Stage 1 Drought Watch
• Stage 2 Drought Warning
• Stage 3 Drought Emergency
• Stage 4 Pro Rata Curtailment
The BRA implemented Stage 1 for the EWCRWS on Aug. 8, 2022 at which time customers and the public were made aware of developing drought conditions. During Stage 1, there is a recommended voluntary 5% reduction in water use that would have occurred under normal conditions.
Should drought conditions continue beyond current measures, the BRA may declare a Stage 3 Drought Emergency, which would require a water use reduction target of 20% or greater, depending on conditions at that time.
As Williamson County grows, so does the need for water and the Brazos River Authority has several large projects underway to help meet that demand – including the expansion of the EWCRWS. This series of projects, expected to be completed over the next several years, will ensure the booming population in this area has the water they need when they turn on the faucet. The series of expansion projects will bring the EWCRWS treated water delivery capability from 13 million gallons per day to about 27.8 million gallons per day. And this is just the short-term plan. The BRA is already considering longer-term expansion plans to meet the area's growing needs and eventually build out the system to handle up to 43 million gallons per day.
The BRA continually monitors the EWCRWS water production and demands as well as weather forecasts, streamflow, and lake levels throughout the Brazos River basin. All reservoirs within the Brazos River Authority system are currently under some stage of the Drought Contingency Plan.
The BRA’s Drought Contingency Plan is required by the state and intended to help preserve and extend water supplies during drought conditions and includes strategies for temporary supply and demand management. A copy of the plan can be found at www.brazos.org/DCP or by contacting the BRA at (254) 761-3100.