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Here’s why it’s important to preserve water in Bell County

According to information from the state water plan, Texas could see water shortages by the year of 2050.
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Posted at 6:08 PM, Apr 30, 2024

BELTON, Texas — "We are going to need projects to supply those new developments, new businesses that come into the area and you know one of those projects in the Bellhouse Drought preparedness project," said Aaron Abel, Water Services Manager, Brazos River Authority.

That project is still in the design and evaluation phase.It would link Lake Belton with Lake Stillhouse Hollow. Lake Belton is about twice the size of Stillhouse Hollow, serving Bell County and Surrounding areas — the pipeline will not transfer water daily.

"It would only do it during dry times and drought times, maybe once or twice every 10 years," Abel said.

The Brazos River Authority includes 11 reservoirs but only own and operate three of them (Lakes Possum Kingdom, Granbury, and Limestone).

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers owns and operates the other eight (Lake Proctor, Whitney, Aquilla, Belton, Stillhouse Hollow, Georgetown, Granger, and Somerville).

All of the area lakes remain below capacity — a result of the drought that's enveloped our area since late summer 2021.

Georgetown is about 1/6 volume of Stillhouse Hollow Lake. B-R-A says the connection between Stillhouse Hollow and Georgetown has created a subsystem using both reservoirs to supply water.

The Authority says the current connection between Stillhouse Hollow allows both reservoirs to supply water.

"That pipeline is about 28 miles it's a 48-inch pipeline and currently the capacity to transfer water from Stillhouse to Georgetown is about 42 million gallons a day," Abel said.

It has been transferring water since 2006.

"We do have trigger levels we turn on or off the pipeline based on lake levels," Abel said.

Temple, Killeen, and Belton all agree we are steadily getting new neighbors. Killeen has about 24 car washes overall. 260 single-family homes, 18 townhomes, and 10 duplexes developments as of 2023.

Temple since 2020, has six permitted
car washes in process now, and another hasn't begun building yet. Since 2023, 923 single-family homes, 42 multi-family, and 38 subdivisions are up and coming.

"We have four car washes, and we have multiple housing development projects underway or in the planned phase. Belton and Bell County remain fast-growing communities — the market is dictating residential and commercial growth. It's as simple as that," said Paul Romer, City of Belton.

But car washes can't be blamed for any restrictions.

"Car washes are under different types of stimulations than residents, number one, they recycle more than water they use less water than restaurants and other businesses, and number two, they are under strict type government and federal restrictions and regulations so when it comes to EPA guidelines they have to follow those guidelines," said Janell Lewis Ford, City of Killeen.

Stillhouse has experienced a 10% increase since late October 2023. It equated to an approximate 5.5 feet rise. Overall, the Bell County reservoirs of Lakes Belton and Lake Stillhouse Hollow have seen a combined storage increase of almost 120,000 acre-feet. For comparison, when full, Lake Stillhouse Hollow holds about 230,000 acre-feet of water or (about 75 billion gallons of water).

Looking ahead, The state water plan comes out every 5 years. With the i35 corridor being a high-growth area the plan does suggest that you and our neighbors could see shortages in water by 2050.