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Timeline of the Brazos River Basin


1541

In search of the fabled Seven Cities of Cibola, Francisco Vasquez de Coronado leads an expedition into the Brazos basin.

 
1821

Stephen F. Austin obtains permission from the Spanish Governor of Texas and Coahuila to explore the country on the Brazos River. Austin is convinced the land of the Brazos River basin is fertile and begins plans for colonization.

 
1833

Major flooding occurs and the Brazos River leaves its banks from Washington to Ringold's Prairie (near present-day Navasota).

 
1836 

Texas Declaration of Independence is signed at Washington, below the confluence of the Brazos and Navasota Rivers.

 
1842

Major flooding occurs and Brazos leaves its banks from Washington to Navasota and widens the river to six miles or more for an extended distance.

The side-wheeler Mustang becomes the first ship to unload cargo at Washington, fueling the dreams of men desiring to build an empire based on steamboat transportation.

 
1848

The Brazos Steam Association forms and purchases two boats for the purpose of navigation between Washington and the Gulf of Mexico.

 
1854

A canal between the Brazos River and Port of Galveston is opened.

 
1867

Lt. Col. S. D. Sturgis reports to the War Department that the water of the Brazos River is so briny that not even mules will consume it.

 
1890

Col. William Prather discovers oil near Waco.

 
1902

Leaders from towns and counties along the river establish the Brazos River Impoundment Association. The goal of the association is to tame the river. The Association's efforts are hindered by a lack of financing.

 
1905

The Rivers and Harbors Act provides funds for the construction of a lock and dam system between Waco and Washington. Work completed before World War I was destroyed by the flood of 1913, ending a century-old dream of a transportation network on the Brazos River.

 
1913

The Guadalupe and Trinity Rivers leave their banks, and the Brazos River and the Colorado River join to flood more than 3,000 square miles of land and cause the deaths of at least 177 people and massive property damage ($3,436,144 in the Brazos Valley alone). The flood causes the river to change course. It now enters the Gulf of Mexico at Freeport.

 
1915

The Brazos River and Valley Improvement Association is formed in Waco with the goal of harnessing the Brazos River. The Association's efforts are hindered by a lack of financing.

 
1917

The Conservation Amendment to the Texas Constitution is passed. Under its provisions the control, prevention, and distribution of flood and storm waters becomes the duty of the state and all limitations which had prevented local financing of flood control projects were removed.

 
1921

Major flooding brings death and destruction of greater magnitude than previously experienced. The floods of 1913 and 1921 are the catalyst, which causes the state to attempt to tame the Brazos River.

 
1923

The Texas State Legislature appropriates funds for a survey of all rivers of the state and analysis of flood and water problems. The study clearly established the need for a state agency with the necessary power to carry out the tasks required to harness and control the Brazos River.

 
1929

The Brazos River Conservation and Reclamation District is created under Article XVI, Section 59 of the Texas Constitution, to conserve, control, and utilize to beneficial service the storm and flood waters of the Brazos River and its tributary streams.

Lands of the Brazos River basin are producing more than 18 million barrels of oil a year. Oil becomes the backbone of the economy in many areas of the Brazos River basin.

 
1933

United States Congress passes the National Industrial Recovery Act, signaling the beginning of the New Deal and a commitment by the federal government to restore the economy through massive spending. Title II of the act creates the Public Works Administration to make loans and grants to states and other public bodies in order to stimulate construction.

 
1935

The District completes its first Master Plan for reservoir development, including a total of 13 dams on the Brazos River and its tributaries.

 
1938

The District begins construction of its first dam and reservoir project,Possum Kingdom, on the main stem of the Brazos River in Palo Pinto County.

 
1939

The United States Congress broadens the mandate of the United States Army Corps of Engineers to include construction of multi-purpose flood controls and water supply projects. The District completes a revised Master Plan.

 
1941

The District completes Lake Possum Kingdom, its first reservoir project.

 
1951

A partnership between the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Brazos River Conservation and Reclamation District, allows the District to acquire conservation storage space in the nine multi-purpose Corps' reservoirs to be constructed over the next 30 years.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers completes Lake Whitney on the main stem of the Brazos River in Hill, Bosque, and Johnson Counties.

 
1952

The Briscoe Irrigation Company and the Galveston County Water Company file complaints before the Texas Railroad Commission concerning the salt pollution caused by oil and gas operations in the upper watershed. This results in a Railroad Commission investigation of oil operators and the issuance of pipeline severances when abuses were not corrected. Little was accomplished by this effort to purify the waters of the Brazos River.

 
1952-57

Record drought occurs. Most Texas counties are declared disaster areas.

 
1954

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers completes Lake Belton on the Leon River in Bell County.

 
1955

The name of the District is officially changed to the Brazos River Authority.

 
1961

Texas A&M completes study and report revealing that salt contamination in the upper basin is caused by a subterranean outcropping of salt which is much larger than originally estimated. The salt bed underlies and contaminates streams in Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Kansas.

 
1963

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers completes Lake Proctor on the Leon River in Comanche County.

 
1965

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers completes Lake Waco on the Bosque River in McLennan County.

 
1966

The Authority begins construction of the DeCordova Bend Dam and Lake Granbury in Hood County.

 
1966-67

The Authority acquires the privately owned American Canal and Briscoe Canal in the lower basin, as a means of furnishing water to Fort Bend, Brazoria, and Galveston Counties for rice irrigation, and industrial and municipal uses.

 
1967

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers completes Lake Somerville on Yegua Creek in Burleson and Washington Counties.

 
1968

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers completes Lake Stillhouse Hollow on the Lampasas River in Bell County.

 
1969

Lake Granbury and DeCordova Bend Dam completed on the Brazos River in Hood County.

 
1971

The Authority begins operating the Waco Metropolitan Area Regional Sewerage System to treat wastes from the Cities of Waco, Bellmead, Lacy Lakeview, and Woodway. The treatment capacity of the plant is 17.8 million gallons per day.

 
1975

The Authority begins operating the Sugar Land Regional Sewerage System to treat wastes from the City of Sugar Land, the City of Cities Municipal Utilities District, the Nalco Chemical Company, and the Imperial Sugar Company. The treatment capacity of the plant is 3.9 million gallons per day.

 

The Authority begins operating the Temple-Belton Regional Sewerage System with a total capacity of 5.0 million gallons per day. The system serves the City of Belton and the western half of the City of Temple.

 
1978

The Authority completes the Sterling C. Robertson Dam, which impounds the Navasota River to form Lake Limestone, the Authority's third reservoir project.

 
1979

The Authority expands the capacity of the Sugar Land Regional Sewerage System to 6.5 million gallons per day.

 
1980 The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers completes Lake Granger on the San Gabriel River and Lake Georgetown on the North Fork San Gabriel River, both are in Williamson County.
 
1983 The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers completes Lake Aquilla on Aquilla and Hackberry Creeks in Hill County.
 
1985 The Authority completes the expansion and improvement of the Waco Metropolitan Area Regional Sewerage System. The new plant uses an activated sludge process and has a treatment capacity of 38.5 million gallons per day.
 
1986 The Authority obtains an option from the Houston Lighting & Power Company (now Reliant Energy) to acquire the Allens Creek reservoir site.
 
1988 The Authority sells American Canal and Briscoe Canal to Galveston County Water Authority.
 
1989 The Authority begins operating the Lake Granbury Surface Water and Treatment System in Hood County.
 
1990 The Authority expands the Temple-Belton Regional Sewerage System.
 
1991 The Authority contracts with the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission to carry out the Clean Rivers Program within the Brazos River basin.

Major floods occur in the central part of the basin due to recurring thunderstorms.

The Authority begins the Volunteer Citizens' Monitoring Program to enhance the public's knowledge of local water quality issues, to increase community involvement, and to improve communication among all parties.

The Authority creates the University Intern Program to provide opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students in the Brazos River basin to acquire practical experience in different aspects of water quality projects.
 
1992 The Authority enters into a Memorandum of Understanding with the United States Department of Agriculture Soil Conservation Services (now the Natural Resources Conservation Service) for cooperative water quality efforts in the Brazos River basin.
 
1994 The Authority completes its fourth reservoir project, Lake Alan Henry in Garza and Kent Counties, to serve the City of Lubbock.
 
1995

The Authority enters into the Brazos-Colorado Water Alliance with the Lower Colorado River Authority, primarily to address water and wastewater issues in the rapidly growing Williamson County area.

The Authority begins managing operations at the Brushy Creek Regional Wastewater System in Williamson County.

Major flooding occurs in the central part of the basin due to recurring thunderstorms.

 
1996

The Authority initiates the Basin Monitoring Program, a strategic, basinwide water quality data collection effort.

 
1997 The Authority, along with the USDA-NRCS, the TNRCC, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, the United States Environmental Protection Agency, the Texas Institute for Applied Environmental Research, the City of Waco, and the City of Clifton collaborated with the U.S. Corps of Engineers to conduct the Middle Brazos Reconnaissance Study. The ecological health of the North Bosque River watershed and other watersheds in the middle Brazos River basin was assessed to determine the natural resources lost due to changes in land use and restorative measures appropriate for the area.
 
1998 Tropical Storm Charley affected the Lower Brazos River watershed. Most of the flooding occurred in in the Rio Grande River basin causing 13 deaths and $50 million in damages.

A major flood event occurs in Central Texas after 30 inches of rainfall in a few hours. The Little River experiences the fifth largest discharge in its history. Flooding also occurs in the South Fork San Gabriel watershed, and the Mill Creek watershed. Property damage of $750 million and 29 deaths were reported primarily in the Colorado and Guadalupe river basins.
 
1999 The Authority assumes operation of the City of Hutto's wastewater treatment plant. The project is a joint effort of the Brazos-Colorado Water Alliance and the city.

The Authority exercises its option to purchase the Allens Creek reservoir site from Reliant Energy.

The Authority contracts with the EPA to conduct the Brazos/Navasota Watershed Management Project, a multi-phase approach to water quality management, with a twofold objective of proactively protecting water quality while supporting economic development.

 
2000

Authority staff participating in the Middle Brazos Feasibility Study, Phase II of the U.S. Corps of Engineers Middle Brazos Study, conduct pre-construction analysis of possible remediation measures, such as wetlands, reforestation, and conservation easements, to improve water quality and aquatic habitat.

The Authority contracts with the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission (TNRCC) to perform the Clean Rivers water quality monitoring program in the basin.

As part of Texas Senate Bill 1, the Authority joins the Brazos G Regional Water Planning Group as administrative agent.

The Authority begins replacement of the flood gates of the Morris Sheppard Dam at Possum Kingdom Lake. The project will last nine years. At the same time, the Authority begins rehabilitation of the 16 gates at the DeCordova Bend Dam at Lake Granbury. The rehab included the installation of new electric gate hoists.

The Authority begins operations for the Clute/Richwood Regional Wastewater System.

 
2001 Construction of a new Central Office building in Waco is completed. The Authority, along with the Lower Colorado River Authority, opens the Sandy Creek Water Treatment Plant. The 4.0 million gallon per day plant provides potable drinking water to the City of Leander and surrounding areas.

 
2002 The Authority purchases the Kerr-McGee pipeline. The 57-mile pipeline, now dubbed the West Central Brazos Water Distribution System, had once been used to transport water for oil drilling will now serve as a means to provide water to areas of west Texas.

The Authority and Poseidon Resources sign a Memorandum of Understanding to evaluate the possibility of a large-scale seawater desalination project.

The Authority contracts with the Lee County Fresh Water Supply District Number 1 for its first retail water and wastewater utility service. Some 150 homes and businesses in the city of Dimebox receive both potable water and wastewater treatment services.
 
2003 The Authority signs a major contract with the City of Georgetown to become the wastewater treatment services provider for the city's six treatment plants.

The Authority receives grant funding from the Texas Water Development Board to study the feasibility of a seawater desalination project.

The Authority sells the Waco Metropolitan Sewerage Plant (WMARSS) to the customer cities.
 
2004 The Brazos River Authority purchases a potable water drinking plant from the City of Taylor beginning a $14 million expansion of the plant.
 
2005 The Authority transferred ownership and operational responsibilities for Lake Alan Henry to the City of Lubbock. The transfer of bond holdings successfully completed the contract between the City and the Authority for completion of a water supply lake for the city.
 
2006 The Authority begins operation of the Williamson County Raw Water Line between Lake Stillhouse Hollow and Lake Georgetown.
 

 



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