Who's using the most water in your lake? What about the entire Brazos River Basin?

Who's using the most water in your lake? What about the entire Brazos River Basin?

Where exactly does the water that's managed by the Brazos River Authority go?

Good question. Every year, the Brazos River Authority releases a comprehensive report on water usage, detailing the amount of water used, who uses it, and where it's consumed.

The BRA has published its 2023 Customer Water Use and Reservoir Accounting Summary. The newly released summary presents an easy-to-understand graphic representation of the water supply within each reservoir, including inflows, supply use, environmental releases, and representation of the amount of water lost to evaporation for the 2023 calendar year.

The chart also illustrates how much water from each reservoir went to lakeside users, was part of a water supply release, or was due to leakage, as well as historical annual water use across the basin.

"It's a useful tool," said BRA Water Services Manager Aaron Abel. "It houses a great deal of good information about our customer's water use and all the components that make up the mass balance of the system as far as inflows and releases and how water is moved from one reservoir to the next." 

The BRA is responsible for providing water to municipalities, industry, agriculture, and mining within the Brazos basin. Those who use the water include cities, water districts, water supply corporations, agricultural users, irrigators, steam electric generating facilities, manufacturing entities, and mining operations. 

In 2023, roughly 52% of the water use was for municipal purposes, while 39% went to industrial uses such as electric generation, 8% for irrigation, and 1% for mining. 

Also last year, more than 474,965 acre-feet of water was lost to evaporation.

The document shows the factors that attributed to the loss or gain of water for each of the 11 BRA System reservoirs, which are scattered across the 42,000-square-mile river basin. The BRA-owned reservoirs include Lakes Possum Kingdom, Granbury and Limestone and the US Army Corps of Engineers owns and operates 8 reservoirs, including Lakes Aquilla, Belton, Georgetown, Granger, Proctor, Somerville, Whitney and Stillhouse Hollow Lake.

Total water used by BRA contract holders in 2023 was the second-largest amount utilized annually since the BRA began making water available in 1942 at 351,427 acre-feet. In 2011, drought conditions and record-setting high temperatures saw total System use peak at just below 500,000 acre-feet. An acre-foot is the amount of water needed to cover one acre (43,560 square feet) with one foot of water. One acre-foot is equal to 325,851 gallons of water.

See the Brazos River Authority's water accounting summary here.

Total water use in the BRA System over previous years includes:

  • 351-427 acre-feet in 2023
  • 325,879 acre-feet in 2022
  • 238,896 acre-feet in 2021
  • 288,968 acre-feet in 2020
  • 264,454 acre-feet in 2019
  • 284,268 acre-feet in 2018
  • 252,987 acre-feet in 2017
  • 226,348 acre-feet in 2016
  • 242,721 acre-feet in 2015
  • 255,946 acre-feet in 2014