With drought conditions continuing throughout the Brazos basin, the Brazos River Authority Board of Directors voted to allow water set aside for contingency purposes to be made available to municipal, industrial and agricultural water users that have indicated an immediate or emergency need.
The BRA’s contingency reserve was established in 2008 to set aside firm water to meet unexpected needs. As drought conditions have progressed, many water users in the basin have indicated that they do not have access to sufficient water supplies to meet their immediate needs this year. BRA has been maintaining a water supply “waiting list” of individuals and entities that would like to contract for additional water should it become available.
The contingency supply consists of about 4,700 acre-feet of water stored within the BRA system that would be made available at the usual system rate of $65.65 per acre-foot for all users except agricultural irrigation. Water supplied to agricultural irrigation customers will be priced at the Agricultural Irrigation rate of $45.95 per acre-foot. No more than one contract will be issued per customer for an amount of no more than 500 acre-feet, and all contracts will expire at the end of the 2014 calendar year.
Contracts for the contingency supply will be issued consistent with the preference of uses defined in BRA’s Water Sales Policy as well as the Texas Water Code as follows:
1. Domestic and municipal uses,
2. Agricultural and industrial uses,
3. Mining and recovery of minerals,
4. Hydroelectric power,
7. Other beneficial uses.
Though the waiting list currently includes municipal, industrial and mining interests, the majority of BRA’s current waiting list is made up of agricultural users with requests for water in amounts much smaller than the 500 acre-foot contract limit set by the board. Many of these agricultural users have no other options available to them to obtain water during drought conditions.
In his presentation to the board, Brad Brunett, BRA water services manager, noted which reservoirs could be tapped for reserves.
Only one municipal request was listed — 500 acre feet of water for Mineral Wells, available from Possum Kingdom Lake. Other requests showed a total 55 acre feet for agricultural use from PK. The balance of the requests for industrial and agricultural uses were shown to be available from lower and central basin resources.