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PLANNING NOW TO MEET FUTURE WATER NEEDS

We Texans are a thirsty bunch. Our appetite for water to be used by people, cities, farms, industry and others, takes about 18 million acre-feet (af) of this precious resource each year to quench. With the state’s population expected to double in the next 50 years, meeting that demand is going to be a challenge and will require careful planning for new supplies, as well as strategies for conservation of the supply we already have.

With this in mind, the Brazos River Authority is developing a Water Management Plan for its proposed System Operation Permit, and the public is an essential part of the process. As with the remainder of the state, the Brazos River Basin water resources will have to expand to meet the needs of a growing population.

Currently the BRA is authorized to divert up to 661,901 af of surface water a year, which is stored in a system of 11 existing reservoirs. Overall, BRA’s state-authorized diversions represent about one-third of the surface water authorized for use from the Brazos Basin. Meanwhile, on average, about 5.8 million af is lost each year when it flows from the Brazos into the Gulf of Mexico.

The BRA began its latest effort to address future water needs by submitting an application for this new permit to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) in 2004. The proposed System Operation Permit would give the BRA the right to use additional water within the basin by accessing return flows from wastewater treatment plants, existing reservoir supplies beyond current permit limits and natural flows downstream from reservoirs.

As the application moves through the state review and approval process, the BRA is also working on a Water Management Plan. The plan will document how water is managed and used in the basin and includes environmental studies, adaptive management and an accounting plan to track water management and use. The plan is to be updated every 10 years.

In January, the TCEQ directed the BRA to deliver the Water Management Plan to them by Nov. 26. In an effort to obtain public participation as the plan is developed, the BRA has scheduled nine public meetings across the river basin. The first three took place in June at Bryan, Temple and Granbury.

Future meetings include:

  • Possum Kingdom Lake, 7 Aug.
  • Taylor, 8 Aug.
  • Brenham, 9 Aug.

  • Glen Rose, 16 Oct
  • Round Rock, 17 Oct
  • Lake Jackson, 18 Oct

At these meetings, the public will hear a presentation from BRA officials about the proposed plan as its development continues. They will also be able to ask questions and make comments.

The BRA has also dedicated a substantial portion of its Website to providing information about the project. By clicking here, one can find updated information on the project, ask questions and see answers to questions posted by others, as well as view the original permit application and related documents. One can also subscribe to an e-mail list to be notified when new material is posted. A link to the site can be found on the BRA’s home page, here.