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Lake Granbury
Frequently Asked Questions


WATER QUALITY

Is the water in the lake safe for swimming?

What is the Lake Granbury Watershed Protection Plan?

Why was it formed?

What will it determine?

What is the timeline?

GOLDEN ALGAE

It's been a while since we've had a golden algae outbreak at Lake Granbury? Has it gone away for good?

What is BRA doing to treat the problem?

CANAL DEVELOPMENT

Was the moratorium on new canals due to pollution issues in some of the older canals - in an effort to prevent more of the same?

When was the moratorium effective?

The BRA has developed engineering standards for future canals on Lake Granbury. Will all new canals be built on these standards?

WATER SALES

What gives the BRA the right to sell water out of the lake?

Where did the funding to build Lake Granbury originate? Taxes?

The BRA sells water contracts for the water supply in Lake Granbury. Where does the water supply from Lake Granbury go?

LAKE LEVELS

Where did the funding to build Lake Granbury originate? Taxes?

Historically, how often and how far down has the lake level dropped?

Lake Granbury experienced historic low levels during the summer of 2011. Why was the level so different from other years?

Is there a limit to how much water the BRA may withdraw from the lake in any given year?

Why does the Brazos River Authority release water from Lake Granbury when lake levels are low?

My property values are being affected by lower lake levels and I can not get my boat out of the dock.

Why is the BRA overselling water from Lake Granbury?

Do releases from Lake Granbury supply water to the nuclear plant?

Why do I have to pay a dock fee when the water is low?

Many residents with boat docks could not use their boats because the lake level was too low. Waterfront property owners pay a premium for their property and pay very large amounts in property tax but were not able to get boats off their lifts.

How do I find the current lake level?

Why didn't the Authority take the opportunity to do some maintenance, such as dredging, while the lake was low?

WATER SUPPLY

What amount of water is now used from Lake Granbury at the Comanche Peak plant? Is any of the water used returned to Lake Granbury?

How much additional water will it take for the two new units?

The BRA sells water contracts for the water supply in Lake Granbury. Where does the water supply from Lake Granbury go?

What else is the Brazos River Authority doing to meet water needs in the basin?

How much water will be returned to the lake after use by the two new reactors?

How much lower will the lake level become when water for the two new units is withdrawn?

WATER QUALITY

Is the water in the lake safe for swimming?
The water in the main body of the lake meets standards for contact recreation. However, no surface water is entirely safe for all people, as all surface water contains bacteria that can be hazardous depending on exposure level and the health of the individual. Additionally, there are areas (canals, coves) that are known to contain elevated levels of bacteria.


What is the Lake Granbury Watershed Protection Plan?
The Lake Granbury Watershed Protection Plan Project is a research program funded by federal grant dollars by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) through the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ). The TCEQ has contracted with the Brazos River Authority to develop a Watershed Protection Plan (WPP) to provide an assessment of existing and potential water quality threats within the Lake Granbury watershed. The project will also provide a plan to improve and protect water quality within the lake.


Why was it formed?
The WPP was formed after several years of water quality testing found elevated concentrations of E. coli and fecal coli form bacteria in coves on the lake.


What will it determine?
The project will provide an assessment of existing and potential water quality threats from sources such as septic systems and farm and ranch runoff.

  1. Develop a locally driven WPP in accordance with EPA 319(h) Nonpoint Source grant guidelines, which coordinates with other on-going activities;


  2. Empower local stakeholders to identify the sources affecting water quality, and design and implement strategies to address the lake's water quality concerns;


  3. Define the expected water quality improvements to be achieved by the implementation strategies; and


  4. Begin to address "known pollution sources" by implementing best management practices during the WPP process and partnering with other local activities.


What is the timeline?
During 2008, the stakeholders group completed source identification projects including: land use analysis, water quality modeling and bacterial source identification projects. The sources varied by location. In urban areas the bacteria in Lake Granbury canals appears to come mostly from domestic waste, pet waste and wildlife. While in rural areas the source appears to be a combination of domestic waste, livestock and wildlife.

The stakeholders group created a list Best Management Practices (BMPs) for Lake Granbury that, if implemented, should improve water quality in the existing canals. The BMP list is currently being analyzed by Environmental Services staff and the water quality modeling team to evaluate: bacterial load reduction, impact on water quality, time to implement, cost effectiveness, availability of funding, community acceptability and political acceptability. When BMP analysis is complete, the results will be presented to the WPP Stakeholders Group. The stakeholder group will then select BMPs for inclusion in the WPP. It is anticipated that the WPP will be completed in fiscal year 2011.

GOLDEN ALGAE

It's been a while since we've had a golden algae outbreak at Lake Granbury? Has it gone away for good?
Unfortunately no, golden algae is present at Lake Granbury year round; however, fish kills occur only when the algae blooms and becomes toxic. Thankfully, we have not had a significant bloom in a couple of years.


What is BRA doing to treat the problem?
At this time there is no way to treat golden algae without doing significant damage to the environment and endangering our water supply. However, a number of groups across the nation are doing research on this topic and hope to find a treatment sometime in the future.


CANAL DEVELOPMENT

Was the moratorium on new canals due to pollution issues in some of the older canals - in an effort to prevent more of the same?
Yes, the moratorium on canal cut-throughs was instituted to ensure responsible management, development and protection of the lake. The moratorium allowed the Authority to assess the impact to the reservoir of future canal development including environmental/water quality issues, construction and design and administrative impacts.

Properties within the county are still subject to the canal moratorium. Hood County representatives have stated support for canal design standards but, at this time, do not intend to amend their sub-division rules to regulate canal construction. They are satisfied with leaving the moratorium in place for areas of Lake Granbury outside the city's jurisdiction. If Hood County eventually adopts the regulatory standards, the Brazos River Authority's Board would consider lifting the moratorium within the county as it did for the city.


When was the moratorium effective?
The moratorium was initiated by the general manager/chief operating officer in October 2002.


The BRA has developed engineering standards for future canals on Lake Granbury. Will all new canals be built on these standards?
Yes, the City of Granbury has adopted these standards for future canals to be developed within the city's jurisdictional areas. As a result, the moratorium on new canals has been lifted in the city. However, at this time, Hood County has not adopted these standards, so the moratorium remains in place within the county jurisdiction.


LAKE LEVELS

What gives the BRA the right to sell water out of Lake Granbury?
The State of Texas owns all surface water in the state and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality is the agency responsible for regulating (permitting) the use of this surface water. The TCEQ issues the water rights for reservoirs in Texas.

The water rights issued to the Brazos River Authority grant the ability to store and use water for beneficial purposes, including the sale of water for municipal, steam-electric cooling and other uses. BRA owns the water right for Lake Granbury (and 11 other lakes) and provides water to our customers by contract under the terms of that water right. To view the permit granting the Authority water rights at Lake Granbury, click here.


Where did the funding to build Lake Granbury originate? Taxes?
Lake Granbury was built without the use of any tax dollars; having been financed entirely with revenues from the sale of water. The principal revenues used to finance the project were and continue to be provided under a contract with TXU Electric Company (now Luminant) for purchase of water for steam-electric cooling for a natural gas-fired power plant on the lake and the Comanche Peak nuclear power plant.


Historically, how often and how far down has the lake level dropped?
The lake was completed in 1969. The top of the conservation pool is at elevation 693-ft. Since completion:

  • 23 percent of the time the elevation has been below 692-ft

  • 9 percent of the time the elevation has been below 691-ft

  • 4 percent of the time the elevation has been below 690-ft

  • The lowest recorded elevation is 685.5-ft

For a chart of historic lake levels, click here.


Lake Granbury experienced historic low levels during the summer of 2011. Why was the level so different from other years?
The lake did drop to a near-historic low during the summer of 2011, hitting its lowest point of 685.6 mean sea level (msl) on September 29, 2011. Since the lake’s creation, it has experienced only four other occasions where the level dropped below 688.3 msl (75 percent full) occurring in 1971, 1974, 1978, and 1984.

Lake Granbury was completed in September 1969 and filled to capacity before the end of that year. Since that time, the lowest the lake has dropped was in 1971 when the level hit 685.5 msl; just over 7 feet below the top of the conservation pool. Lows at that time were attributed to severe drought conditions. For a chart of historic lake levels, here.

The lake level was low in 2011 for a number of reasons; some naturally occurring, some man-made. However, the reservoir would have been lower without the benefit of the water released from storage in Possum Kingdom Lake as a result of the Possum Kingdom-Granbury Water Management Study. These fluctuations in lake levels are typical for water supply lakes, as those levels respond to use, evaporation, inflows and rainfall.

Adding to these conditions, the Granbury lake level was abnormally low due to the effects of drought conditions and the unusually warm temperatures. The period beginning in October 2010 – October 2011 was recorded as the driest 12 months in recorded state history. Lack of rain, increased water use, a high evaporation rate along with temperatures that reached over 100 degrees for more than 90 days in areas of the basin during 2011, also contributed to decreasing lake levels. The result was a domino effect that created increased usage of stored water from Lake Granbury by electric companies, municipalities, and lakeside homeowners along with increased evaporation from the lake. Evaporation alone accounted for about 60 percent of the drop in lake level.

Lake Granbury is permitted by the State of Texas and is an integral component for water supply in the State Water Plan. Like all water supply lakes, it was built to accumulate and store water during times of abundance for use when rainfall and river flows are inadequate to meet water needs.



Is there a limit to how much water the BRA may withdraw from the lake in any given year?
The BRA is permitted by the state to annually withdraw up to 100,000 acre feet for water sales from Lake Granbury. Though this may seem like a lot of water, during years with normal rainfall, streamflow and runoff keep the lake relatively full. Over the last 25 years, annual inflow to Lake Granbury has averaged about 470,000 acre feet per year.


Why does the Brazos River Authority release water from Lake Granbury when lake levels are low?


As a water supply lake, Granbury is part of a system of lakes operated by the Brazos River Authority. Releases are made for several reasons, including:

  • water supply by users near the lake and downstream,

  • to pass through water released from the lake above Lake Granbury, and

  • to refill storage in the lake below Granbury.

The Authority maintains a small daily release to help provide a viable habitat for the environment of the Brazos River below Lake Granbury. However, the Authority also maintains a continuous release from Possum Kingdom Lake that is regulated by that lake's Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) license. The FERC license mandates a minimum discharge. For FERC requirements, click here.


My property values are being affected by lower lake levels and I can not get my boat out of the dock.
Like most lakes in Texas, Lake Granbury's water level is affected by water use, river inflow, drought and other natural events.

All rivers, streams and lakes fluctuate with the weather. Man-made reservoirs built for either flood control, water supply or both are dependent on rain and streamflow to keep them full.

Our water supplies are necessary to our standard of living in many ways beyond what flows out of our faucets. Besides using water from our reservoirs for bathing, cooking and drinking, many also enjoy our water supply for recreation such as skiing, swimming and fishing.

But what most people do not realize is that water is also used to provide electricity to our homes, pump oil from the ground to be used in our cars and to irrigate the farms that grow food for our tables.

Most of us would not consider allowing our electric power plants to stop providing electricity to our homes or for farms to stop producing food for our tables during times of extended drought. To enjoy these necessities and conveniences, we must continue to provide water for each of these types of use. As a result, lake levels decline, recreation is affected and property values may fluctuate.

The good news is that the adage "what goes up, must come down" also works in reverse. When lake levels go down, we have always been assured that at some point they will come back up, restoring recreational opportunities.


Why is the BRA overselling water from Lake Granbury?
The Authority has not oversold water from any of the reservoirs within the Brazos system as the reservoirs are not operated as stand alone water supplies.

Through a standard water permitting process set by the state through the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) and through contractual negotiations, the Authority has obtained the right to provide up to 705,000 acre-feet of water basin-wide from the 11 system reservoirs and the rivers within the watershed. The Authority has contracted 700,000 acre-feet of water.

Of the amount contracted, less than half is used each year.

Within the upper basin, Lake Granbury is operated as a part of a subsystem of Authority reservoirs including Possum Kingdom and Lake Whitney. In determining the water availability for the upper area of the Brazos basin, the total firm yield of all three lakes is combined. Together the subsystems' firm yield meets the needs of the upper basin including additional stored water that may be sent downstream from Possum Kingdom as "pass through" water to meet the needs of other areas of the basin. As a result, the basin is in no way oversold or stressed from a water supply standpoint.



Do releases from Lake Granbury supply water to the nuclear plant?
The releases made from Lake Granbury do not supply water to the nuclear power plant. The nuclear power plant supply is taken directly from Lake Granbury.



Why do I have to pay a dock fee when the water is low?
The staff at the Brazos River Authority understands it can be frustrating when lake levels recede from landowners' docks. However, the permit fees are not set in place as a fee for recreational use. The permit fee is also not a tax. The fee basically allows the permit holder to affix a permanent structure over Authority property (the lake bed). It also allows the Authority the ability to ensure that the docks that are built are safe.

It is also important to remember that every dock permit issued by the Authority includes a warning to dock owners regarding lake levels. The permit reads: The water level in the lakes will not be constant. Authority lakes are water supply and conservation projects. While it is the desire of the authority to keep the lakes as full as possible, the level of the water will vary, depending on the amount of water used from the lakes, evaporation rates, generation of hydroelectric power, amounts of rainfall and runoff in the Brazos basin upstream and other factors.

The level in any lake will drop as much as 33 feet below the full lake level. The authority will not credit, pro-rate, refund, or provide any form of compensation for the inability of permittee to utilize on-water permitted facilities. To view a full copy of the dock (On-Water Facility) permit, click here.



Many residents with boat docks could not use their boats because the lake level was too low. Waterfront property owners pay a premium for their property and pay very large amounts in property tax but were not able to get boats off their lifts.
With increased heat and a lack of rain, lake levels fall. Like all water supply reservoirs, Lake Granbury's levels fluctuated.

The basic purpose of all water supply reservoirs is to catch water when there is plenty and use the water during droughts. Recreation is a wonderful secondary benefit of having a lake in your area. However, as stewards of the state's natural resource, the Authority must provide water for its highest use which is human consumption. During periods of drought, this means a balance must be struck so that those running out of water to drink will have a reliable supply.

It is important to note that the Authority is in no way associated with the Hood County Appraisal District. The Authority has no influence over the appraisals provided by the county nor does it benefit from tax dollars generated by the county or by the state. BRA is a self-funded, not-for-profit water supply agency not affiliated with taxes of any type.

Lakeside homeowners must understand that with the exception of the ocean, very few bodies of water will remain constant. All rivers, lakes, and streams used for water supply will fluctuate with use and evaporation. But at some point, they also will return to normal when it rains.



How do I find the current lake level?
The current lake level is measured by a gage situated at the dam. You may find that level by clicking here.



Why didn't the Authority take the opportunity to do some maintenance, such as dredging, while the lake was low?
The Authority does not provide dredging of the lake bed. Our hydrologists have advised that with time a natural process of heavy rain will tend to clear the main channel of the river in the upper part of the lake. Additionally, the cost to dredge would be in the millions and therefore prohibitive.



WATER SUPPLY

What amount of water is now used from Lake Granbury at the Comanche Peak plant? Is any of the water used returned to Lake Granbury?
On average, 43,000 acre-feet per year is pumped from Lake Granbury to Squaw Creek Reservoir for use at the current Comanche Peak plant.

Water released from Squaw Creek Reservoir is currently not returned to Lake Granbury. The water released from the plant flows down Squaw Creek and joins the Brazos River downstream of Lake Granbury.


How much additional water will it take for the two new units?
Luminant has requested a water supply of up to 90,000 acre-feet per year for Units 3 & 4. The actual amount of water that will be needed by Units 3 & 4 is subject to several factors and Luminant should be consulted if more detail is needed. A large amount of water for this project will be provided from the supply at Possum Kingdom Lake.

At this time, the Brazos River Authority does not have the ability to provide water to Luminant to supply Units 3 & 4. The ability to supply water for this project is subject to BRA obtaining an additional appropriation of water from TCEQ (a new water right permit). BRA calls the new permit the System Operations Permit and we are well underway at TCEQ with the application and review process. This new permit will give BRA access to additional water supplies throughout the Brazos River basin from Possum Kingdom Reservoir downstream to the Gulf of Mexico. Some of the water to be used at Units 3 & 4 would come from Possum Kingdom.


The BRA sells water contracts for the water supply in Lake Granbury. Where does the water supply from Lake Granbury go?
Current water use from Granbury can be broken down as follows:

  • 50,000 acre-feet per year for steam-electric cooling

  • 7,000 acre-feet per year for municipal use

  • 6,000 acre-feet per year for irrigation

  • 500 acre-feet per year for mining (additional mining use of approximately 2,500 acre-feet per year is supplied downstream of Lake Granbury with releases from Possum Kingdom that are passed through Lake Granbury.)


What else is the Brazos River Authority doing to meet water needs in the basin?
The Allens Creek Reservoir near Houston is a separate project that is already permitted by TCEQ and is a good example of how BRA is working to develop new water supplies throughout the river basin.

For example, because Possum Kingdom Reservoir is our largest lake with the greatest amount of storage, it is partially dedicated to meeting demands as far downstream as the Houston area. The new water supplies provided either by the new Allens Creek Reservoir or approval of our System Operations Permit will allow the BRA to meet some of these downstream needs (such as the Houston area) with water from other storage reservoirs resulting in PK retaining water that may have otherwise been released.


How much water will be returned to the lake after use by the two new reactors?
Of the water diverted from Lake Granbury for Units 3 & 4, the ratio is two-thirds to be consumed in evaporation in the cooling towers and one-third will be returned to Lake Granbury.


How much lower will the lake level become when water for the two new units is withdrawn?
The additional water used by Units 3 & 4 will result in the lake level being as much as 1.5-ft lower than it would have been during drought conditions which is about 30 percent of the time. During average rainfall years and wet years, there will be no effect on lake levels. During extreme drought, such as experienced in the 1950s, the lake would be as much as 4-ft lower than it would have been without any water use by Units 3 & 4. This data is based on projections for year 2020 lake conditions with normal releases of water from hydroelectric production from Possum Kingdom Lake.

 


 



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