The rivers and lakes of the Brazos basin draw people from across the state for a variety of reasons. Some come to fish, hunt or swim. Or maybe camping or canoeing brings them to the water. Still others live along a public lake or stream or depend on it for their water supply.

But what do you do if you have a question or want to make a report about activity in and around the basin’s lakes and rivers? There is an alphabet soup of local state and federal agencies that deal with issues related to our lakes and streams, and that can make it confusing to know who to call. Here are some of the more common issues people may encounter around water and who to contact or where to look for more information.

Fishing and hunting

Fishing and hunting in the state of Texas is licensed and regulated by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD). For questions about getting fishing or hunting licenses and about restrictions on these activities, you should check with that agency. Click here for their Web site. If you see someone violating state hunting or fishing regulations on a river or stream, you should contact your local TPWD game warden. You can find contact information for wardens by clicking here. You might also want to check with county or city officials to see if any local ordinances restrict fishing or hunting.

If you know of hunting or fishing violations on Brazos River Authority lakes, you should contact an Authority lake ranger through the lake office. Call (940) 779-2321 for Possum Kingdom, (817) 573-3212 for Granbury and (903) 529-2141 for Limestone. Hunting on Authority lakes is limited to areas set aside for the activity. Each fall, the Authority holds drawings for waterfowl hunting sites on each lake. If you would like to participate in a drawing, contact the lake’s office. More information on Authority regulations can be found here.

Camping and paddling

Authority lakes offer plentiful camping spots, and most are free year round. If you wish to learn more about camping on a given lake, contact the Authority at (888) 922-6272 or you can look up information here by clicking the link to each lake on the “Reservoirs” pull-down menu.

Since the Brazos and its tributaries are public lands, you are free to camp and paddle within its banks. However, before you set out, you might want to make sure river conditions are safe for such activities.

To check if a release is occurring or imminent from an Authority lake, go to the Authority’s home page here. Current releases are listed on the bottom and pending releases will be posted along the right side of the page. You can see regularly updated river flow and depth readings by clicking here. You can learn about weather conditions for a given stretch of the river through the National Weather Service’s Web site, here. For information about other lakes in the basin, operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, please contact the Corps. You can find their Web site here.

Residents’ questions

While the beds of the Brazos and its tributaries are public lands, the banks are largely privately owned and subject to trespassing laws. If you see someone trespassing on your property, call your local law enforcement agency as soon as possible.

If you want to remove sand or gravel from a public stream or riverbed or if you see someone doing so illegally, you should contact TPWD. But if you want to add dredged or fill material into the riverbed, you should contact the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Landowners are not allowed to dam, place a fence across or in any other way block a public stream. Any such violations should be reported to TPWD.

If you live along the Brazos or its tributaries and want to draw from it to water livestock, meet household needs, or irrigate a yard or home garden, you may do so freely as long as it is not for commercial use. The state sets a limit of 200 acrefeet per 12 months for use in stock tanks. If you want the water for commercial purposes, you should either contact the Authority about drawing water reserved on its state water right, or contact the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) about getting a new water right.

If you wish to draw water from an Authority lake, you will need to contact the lake office and submit a Residential Water Use Permit. Those who live on the shore of an Authority lake and who wish to build a boat dock, ramp or other such structure should contact their lake office about getting an On Water Facility Permit.

Also, if you wish to know where the flood plain is in relation to your property near a stream or lake, you should contact your local county engineer’s office.

Environmental concerns

We all hate to see damage to the plants, animals and environment of our beautiful lakes and rivers, whether caused by people or nature. Fortunately there are people you can call to keep the problem from getting worse. If you see dead fish in a lake or stream, contact your local TPWD game warden or call this 24-hour hotline as soon as possible at (512) 389-4848.

If you notice a pollutant spill or someone illegally dumping in an Authority lake, write down as many details as you can and call lake rangers as soon as possible. If you see someone illegally dumping in a stream or non-Authority lake, contact your local city or county officials or state game wardens. For spills, contact the state’s spill reporting hotline at (800) 832-8224.

Law enforcement issues

If you are involved in a boating or other accident on an Authority lake, you should call a lake ranger immediately. Likewise, if you see someone on a lake committing an offence such as boating while intoxicated, in an unsafe manor or without proper safety equipment, call the lake office and get a ranger to investigate.

On the river, you should call a TPWD game warden if you have an accident or spot illegal boating activity. Driving in a riverbed is also illegal under state law and should be reported to game wardens when observed.

For any questions or concerns not addressed here, please feel free to contact the Brazos River Authority’s Public Information Office at (800) 832-8224.