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Drought continues in Central Texas, raises concerns over water supply

Posted at 11:50 AM, Apr 20, 2023
and last updated 2023-04-20 22:48:57-04

WACO, Texas — The summer of 2021 was a wet one in Central Texas, but that was the last time Texans saw those conditions.

"If you look over the last 10 or 15 years, we've really seen kind of a swing back and forth between droughts and floods," Aaron Abel with the Brazos River Authority told 25 News.

"Here recently, the drought is on everybody's mind."

The Brazos River Authority manages 11 reservoirs across Central Texas. Water Services Manager Aaron Abel said the drought is having different impacts in each area.

"We have Lake Granger — that reservoir is actually full right now and was releasing water for flood purposes earlier," Abel said.

"Other reservoirs like Proctor, we're on the order nine to 10 feet below full at that reservoir. Lake Belton is even greater than 14 feet below full."

"There's cause for concern because we're not used to being this low," Waco Lake Manager Mike Champagne said of water levels.

Champagne said this is the lowest Lake Waco has been in two decades, since 2003 when the city raised the lake level by seven feet.

"Raising the lake level was to give the city of Waco more drinking water," Champagne said.

"Since 2003, the normal elevation has been at 462."

That elevation is now down almost 11 feet.

"That impact is big on recreation here at the lake," Champagne said.

"We've got most of our boat ramps closed, our swim beaches all three of them are out of the water so we don't have any designated swim areas."

As the drought continues, so do concerns around the water supply. Some cities have implemented water restrictions in the last 17 months, and everyone is asked to consider limiting their usage by 5%.

"We're paying close attention to demands, what our users are using from the reservoirs and downstream to make sure every drop of water is used efficiently and for the benefit of everyone," Abel said.

Now being a month into spring, both Abel and Champagne are hopeful to see a lot of showers.

"As we end a drought, it's typically ended by a flood," Abel said.

"That equates to much above average rainfall over a short period of time. That's probably what its going to take to really end this drought."

"Hopefully in the next couple of months this is when we get our rain and early summer," Champagne added.

"All we can do is hope for more rain and we'll be ready."