Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Brazos, she's pretty low ... state decides to restrict junior water rights

We knew the water level on The Brazos was seriously low when we read Bob Dunn's blog and he described it on June 27 as brown and soupy.

The Lower Brazos, where Bob lives, suffers at the whim of those who control dams on the Upper Brazos during dry times like these.

" Early this year," Bob wrote on Bob Dunn's Brazos River Blog, "low water only being replenished by upstream sewage treatment plants provided nature with a major bloom of fish-killing golden algae. Since the beginning of this month, sunny highs of 98 degrees or more and a total absence of rain has helped turn the Mighty Lower Brazos into a stagnant ribbon of gruel. Three weeks ago I watched, undetected, as three somewhat intoxicated teenagers unsuccessfully powered a broken pedal-boat across my range of view, eventually tumping in mid-river. They simply stood up, in water between waist and chest high. A year ago the river wouldn’t have allowed such an insulting craft to launch, and if anyone were unlucky enough to tump in mid-stream, they would’ve found themselves swept a hundred yards downstream before even thinking about reaching shore."

So that was on June 27.

And now, just about 30 minutes ago, the state announced it would restrict non-municipal junior water rights holders on The Brazos because of the drought.

Here's the full text of the press release:

The executive director of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality notified non-municipal junior rights holders, with a priority date of 1980 and later, that their right to divert water from the Brazos River basin is immediately suspended.

The priority doctrine, according to Texas law, determines that the most senior water rights will be served first during times of drought regardless of the permitted water use. As a result, junior water rights, or those rights issued most recently, are suspended or curtailed before the senior water rights in the area.

The Texas Water Code requires that the flows of the Brazos River must be available for use by land owners with property adjacent to the Brazos River for domestic and livestock use as part of their inherent riparian rights. These D&L users have senior priority before any appropriated water rights.

The lack of significant rainfall in the area and the declining flow of the Brazos River means many junior water rights have already reached their permitted flow restrictions and have not been allowed to divert any surface water. All approved temporary water rights in the area have also been suspended. Should drought conditions continue to persist, additional suspensions or restrictions of remaining water rights may be necessary.

Here's what the TCEQ says you can to do conserve water:

$ water your lawn no more than twice a week and only during early morning hours,

$ use a drip irrigation system instead of sprinklers,

$ wash full loads of dishes or laundry,

$ cut back on washing your vehicle,

$ replace old plumbing with water saving fixtures,

$ consider installing a cistern to catch rainwater for future use,

$ plant native plants (that require less water).


Anonymous said...

Too much scribbling on this one, Jonesey. Water is only the latest casualty of our untiring Bullshit Way of Life. Plus, it's the stinking Brazos, so who cares?

Bob said...

From what I've been told by a couple of Brazos River Authority managers, we up here at Richmond can thank the likes of Dow for the fact that our portion of the river is flowing as well as it is (9-10 feet I would guess).

It seems big senior rights holders like Dow complained that flows were too low several weeks ago, and asked that the BRA release some of the water to which they had a right.

Ever since, the river rose - just a little, but discernable and with a light but actual current. Whatever benefit this has to the environment is purely incidental, because those that control the Brazos know it isn't really a river per se, but a wholesale water delivery system.

Leigh said...

Stagnant ribbon of gruel!!!!! Bob Dunn's a genius!

Anonymous said...

Will restricting junior water rights make a difference? Which represents the most water, junior or senior holders?

This discussion points out the future, water has become White Gold in the future to be as valuable as Black Gold.


i don't have the answer to that. Bob Dunn might. he seems well-versed on the issue.