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1/9/2024 - Update on status of Stage 2 drought restrictions

Dear Brushy Creek MUD residents,

As we embark on another year, we reflect on the incredible community that is Brushy Creek. It is with immense gratitude and appreciation that we extend our warmest thanks to each of you for your unwavering commitment to making our District a wonderful place to live. Your conscientious efforts in conserving water, fostering a sense of community, and supporting our shared initiatives have not gone unnoticed.

While we celebrate the collective achievements of our community, it remains crucial to address the ongoing situation we face regarding water conservation. We recognize our residents have made many concessions since entering Stage 2 restrictions in August 2023. Unfortunately, despite your consistent efforts and recent rainfall, our main water supply sources have not increased to a level that would warrant a reduction in conservation requirements.

According to the Brazos River Authority, Lake Georgetown and Stillhouse Hollow Lake combine to form the Stillhouse-Georgetown reservoir system, which is the BCMUD’s largest water source. Despite recent rain events, both lakes remain under 60% capacity. Information from the BRA, which manages these and other reservoirs in the region, states those percentages within the Stillhouse-Georgetown system translate to about 157,000 acre-feet of water.

“In the BRA Drought Contingency Plan, a Stage 2 Drought Warning is triggered when the combined storage of the Stillhouse-Georgetown system [drops to] approximately 165,000 acre-feet,” said BRA Water Resources Manager Aaron Abel.

For BCMUD to lift Stage 2 drought restrictions, Abel said, the combined storage capacity of the Stillhouse-Georgetown system must rise above 165,000 acre-feet for at least 30 consecutive days.

BRA data sets show that Stillhouse-Georgetown system levels are higher now than they were three months ago, but lower than they were one year ago. Abel said all lakes generally fluctuate from year to year due to changes in water usage, evaporative losses, streamflow, precipitation patterns, and other variables tied to climatic conditions.

However, the Stillhouse-Georgetown system has been significantly hit by the current drought that began in summer 2021, he said, adding system water levels dropped from about 262,000 acre-feet in August 2021 to about 145,000 acre-feet in late October 2023.

“These declines in reservoir storage are comparable to previous recent drought periods that impacted the Stillhouse-Georgetown subsystem from 2011-2015,” Abel said.

While water level increases may seem slow-going within the region and, more specifically, the Stillhouse-Georgetown system, Abel said there are positive signs to take note of as spring approaches. In fall 2023, beneficial rainfall occurred across the watersheds that feed Lakes Stillhouse Hollow and Georgetown. That rainfall, coupled with periodic rainfall events in late December and early January, has helped the Stillhouse-Georgetown system capacity rise by almost 14,000 acre-feet, he said.

But that isn’t the only positive sign to note.

"Current long-term seasonal outlooks from the National Weather Service indicate increased probabilities for above normal rainfall primarily starting in February and extending into April," Abel said. "Additionally, spring into early summer is a time when we typically see higher rainfall totals that could bring additional inflows into the reservoirs and lake level benefits that could hopefully ease the drought." 

However, local water conservation experts say it remains important to maintain good conservation habits. Though beneficial rainfall events have occurred in recent months and weeks, we are not “back to normal.”

“So, it has rained, but are we out of a drought? No,” said Carlos Rubinstein, principal of environmental consulting firm RSAH2O LLC and former chairman of the Texas Water Development Board. “It takes a while to get into a drought, and some time to get out of one.”  

 Rubinstein, who is also a former commissioner with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and a current resident of Meadows of Brushy Creek, said soil moisture needs to be restored to allow for runoff after a storm event of sufficient quantity to recharge our lakes.

Rubinstein added it is still crucial for BCMUD residents to do their part by continuing to conserve water and following the BCMUD drought restrictions.

“We are seeing soil moisture getting back to ‘normal,’ but not sufficient inflow yet to our lakes to allow them to recover,” he said. “That will require more rain. We are on the right track, but we cannot guarantee that rains will continue to bless us and end the drought.”

For complete information on the BCMUD Drought Contingency Plan, click here



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