The System Operation Permit (Permit) represents a unique project by the Brazos River
Authority (B.R.A.) that addresses current and future water supply needs throughout
the Brazos River basin in a cost-effective and environmentally sensitive
manner. On average, nearly six million acre-feet (acft) of water per year pass
the southernmost downstream monitoring gage on the Brazos River flowing unused
into the Gulf of Mexico. The Permit allows access to a portion of these unused
flows and appropriates an immediate, low-cost, and reliable source of water.
The Permit also allows the B.R.A. to use naturally occurring flows in the basin
and return flows from wastewater treatment plants, in conjunction with the
water supply in the 11 existing reservoirs within the B.R.A water supply
system. The uncontrolled natural flow, originating downstream of the B.R.A.’s
reservoirs during wet times, can be augmented by releases from B.R.A.
reservoirs upstream during dry times and collectively achieve a “system”
yield that is greater than the sum of the individual reservoir yields.
A Water Management Plan (WMP), including the Technical Report in support of the
WMP (WMP Technical Report), has been incorporated into the Permit and governs the
operating principles upon which decisions are made for diversion, storage, and use
of water appropriated under the Permit. The Texas Commission on Environmental
Quality (TCEQ) issued its final order dated September 16, 2016, approving issuance
of the Permit to the B.R.A., and on November 30, 2016, the Permit was formally
issued by the TCEQ.
The TCEQ’s final order directed the B.R.A. to make changes to the WMP and WMP
Technical Report so that each conforms with the final order and the Permit. The
WMP also includes a conformed accounting plan based on the TCEQ’s adopted approach
on return flows and other determinations regarding the amount of the appropriation. The
accounting plan was developed to report compliance with the terms and conditions of the
Permit and the diversion and use of water under other B.R.A. water rights. On April
2, 2018, the TCEQ Executive Director approved the conformed WMP and WMP Technical
Report, associated appendices, and the revised accounting plan, as required by the
The conformed WMP documents are available by clicking the links below. The conformed
WMP Technical Report is a lengthy document including six sections or chapters, 18
appendices, and the revised accounting plan. Due to the size of the document, each
section has been made available as an individual file to simplify the download
process. Click on the blue section links to access each file.
System Operations Drought Study
The Permit issued to the B.R.A. by the TCEQ on November 30, 2016 required the B.R.A.
to evaluate the impact of the 2011-2015 drought on the B.R.A. water supply system, and
submit its Drought Study to TCEQ within nine months of permit issuance. Two questions
were to be addressed:
Did this drought represent a drought worse than the drought of the 1950s, and
Did the drought decrease the amount of water available for appropriation under
The purpose of the Drought Study was to update the hydrologic data to include the 2011-2015
drought and evaluate any impacts of the drought on the B.R.A. water supply system. In addressing
the first question, the study determined that the drought period that ended in 2015 was worse
than the 1950s drought for areas of the Brazos basin upstream and to the northwest of Lake
Whitney. For areas downstream and south of Lake Whitney, the 1950s drought remains the worst.
Addressing the second question, the water availability modeling indicated that the amount of
water appropriated in the Permit does not need to be reduced.
The Drought Study was submitted to the TCEQ on June 16, 2017. Following review and comment by the
TCEQ staff, a revised Drought Study report was submitted to TCEQ on August 4, 2017. The revised
Drought Study report was reviewed and accepted by TCEQ. A copy of the final report is available
Water Management Plan
Technical Report Supporting the Proposed Water Management Plan