System Operations Permit & Water Management Plan

System Operations

The reservoirs and pipelines that make up the BRA System are designed to supply water where it is needed as efficiently as possible. Customers may draw water contracted through the BRA directly from reservoirs or water supply may be released from any of the 11 reservoirs within the system to meet customer needs.

BRA system operations ensure no one reservoir bears an undue burden of meeting water supply needs. Numerous factors contribute to the location from which water is released, such as the location of the customer, the location of the reservoir and the current supply available within the Brazos basin.

At this time, all water supply permitted for use through the BRA by the state is under contract. The BRA is currently applying to update its System Operations Permit to make available additional water in the coming years to meet the needs of a growing population in the Brazos basin.

Water Management Plan Update
Water Supply

On May 13, 2014, the Brazos River Authority delivered its updated Water Management Plan (WMP) and Technical Report in Support of the WMP to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ). The WMP and the accompanying Technical Report and Appendices were updated to incorporate the Senate Bill 3 Environmental Flow Standards for the Brazos River basin adopted by the TCEQ on February 12, 2014.

On Tuesday, February 16, 2015, a hearing to review the updated permit and WMP was reconvened before the State Office of Administrative Hearings (SOAH). The SOAH hearing process lasted until Thursday, February 26, 2015. The SOAH Administrative Law Judges completed a Proposal for Decision (PFD) forwarding it to TCEQ, for placement on the Commissioners' Agenda for final consideration.

On January 20, 2016, the TCEQ Commissioners once again considered the System Operation Permit finding it generally acceptable and remanding it back to SOAH to address issues of return flows accounting and reservoir sedimentation. A supplemental Proposal for Decision, addressing only those two issues, was received on June 3, 2016, and a final order was approved by TCEQ on September 16, 2016, resulting in the permit being issued to the BRA. Under the terms of the order and permit, the BRA has until June 16, 2017, to complete an analysis of the effects of the 2011-2015 drought within the Brazos River basin, as well as to conform the WMP to comply with the various terms and conditions contained within the order and the final permit.

System Operation represents a unique approach by the Brazos River Authority to address current and future water supply needs throughout the Brazos basin in a cost-effective and environmentally-sensitive manner. The permit application was originally submitted to TCEQ by the BRA in 2004.

When granted, the permit will appropriate a new, reliable supply of water for municipalities, industry, agricultural and mining interests within the Brazos basin without the costly and time-consuming construction of new reservoirs. The permit will allow the BRA to use naturally occurring flows in the basin and return flows from wastewater treatment plants in conjunction with the water supply in its 11 existing reservoirs.

In a normal year, approximately 5.8 million acre-feet of treatable water supply passes the furthest downstream monitoring gauge on the Brazos River into the Gulf of Mexico. The BRA's permit application seeks to gain access to a portion of these "uncontrolled" flows so that BRA's customers may divert them for beneficial use.