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Water School

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What is mean sea level?

Mean sea level is the average height of the ocean’s surface, between high and low tide. It is used as a standard in reckoning land and other elevations such as lake levels. A lake’s conservation pool will be measured as a certain number of feet above mean sea level.
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How deep is my lake?

Periodically, officials conduct surveys of reservoirs within the Brazos River basin to determine each lake’s volume. As part of that work, survey crews determine each lake’s depth (in feet). Do not confuse this measurement with lake level, however.A reservoir’s depth is the distance from the bottom to the top of the conservation pool, the point where the lake is considered full. The lake level is the number of feet the surface is above mean sea level.Surveys use a combinat...
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I’ve heard that lakes have a “lifetime.” What does that mean?

Texas streams and rivers are in constant motion and the waters they pour into our lakes carry with them a continuous but varying amount of sediment.When the water is slowed or stopped as it runs into a lake or by a dam, the sediment drops to the lake’s bottom. This sediment builds up year after year and at some point, fills the lake to a point it can no longer continue to serve its purpose in flood control or water supply. This would be the end of the lake’s effective “lifetime.”  The averag...
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What is yield?

Yield refers to the amount of water produced by a water treatment process or the quantity of water that can be collected for a given use from surface or groundwater sources. The yield may vary depending on the proposed use, the development plan, location of the water source and economic considerations.
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What is a flood pool?

A flood pool is a specified area within a flood control lake and the surrounding land that may only be inundated during periods of flooding. This allows the flow of waters to be regulated and released in a safe manner.
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What is appropriation doctrine?

This doctrine has its roots in the 1800s, when Texas officials determined riparian doctrine did not address the needs of more arid parts of the state. Since the late 19th century, land acquired from the state has used prior-appropriation doctrine instead of riparian when considering water rights.Under this approach, water rights are based on seniority.  In other words, one’s water rights are based on the date one applied for the right, with older claimants having seniority. However, those pre-e...
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Who has water rights in Texas?

Water rights in Texas are complicated.  They date back to Spanish colonial law, but also include influences from English common law, a history of state legislation as well as judicial decisions. Water rights in Texas are further complicated because ground and surface water rights are approached differently. Generally, water rights law determine who can use water, how much may be used and for what purpose.
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The information provided on this site is intended as background on water within the Brazos River basin. There should be no expectation that this information is all encompassing, complete or in any way examines every aspect of this very complex natural resource.

If you have questions about a post or would like additional information, please contact us or call 888-922-6272.

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