Brazos River Basin drought downgraded, water-wise habits still the golden rule

Brazos River Basin drought downgraded, water-wise habits still the golden rule

After more than 550 days, the totality of water supply throughout the Brazos River Basin has finally increased enough to move the System of reservoirs out of the Stage 1 Drought Watch status.

What that doesn't mean is that all drought restrictions have been lifted.

In the Brazos River Authority's Drought Contingency Plan, each of the 11 water supply reservoirs can have its own drought status, and then a separate drought status is given to the System based on the combined amount of water supply available.

Thanks to the rain, the system-wide status was removed as of Feb. 19, 2024. The designation has been in place since Aug. 17, 2022. The removal of the drought designation allows most BRA customer cities, industries, and agriculture to change or remove restrictions they currently have in place.

As of Feb. 12, 2024, the BRA System has risen to 85%, storing about 1.63 million acre-feet of water. All the BRA system reservoirs located outside of the Little River system are either full or nearly full, with several of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reservoirs temporarily storing water in their flood control pools.

Not every lake, however, is seeing improvements in drought conditions. 

Lakes Belton and the Lake Stillhouse Hollow – Lake Georgetown subsystem remain under a Stage 2 Drought Warning, requiring a 10% reduction in use. Lake Proctor remains under Stage 4 Pro-Rata Curtailment, which mandates a 30% reduction in use.

The state requires the BRA to plan and implement a Drought Contingency Plan, which outlines steps to extend the supply and availability of water during times of drought. There are four stages. Each stage is marked by trigger points measured either by a lake level or by the water storage capacity. 

The Drought Contingency Plan also includes drought triggers that are associated with how wet or dry it is according to the Palmer Hydrologic Drought Index or, specific to the Lake Georgetown-Stillhouse Hollow subsystem, the pumping duration of the Williamson County Regional Raw Water Line.

Just because the rain is back doesn't mean it's time to ditch those water-saving habits! It's easy to relax when things seem good. But using less water every day becomes similar to tying your shoes - the more you do it, the easier it gets. It becomes especially important as we don't know when the drought will intensify. 

Remember, every drop counts, even when the clouds are full.

To stay up to date with the latest drought conditions, follow our biweekly videos here on YouTube, updating you on conditions throughout the basin.