The Brazos River has nearly dried up, prompting cities in Galveston County to issue drought alerts and preventing Brazoria County rice farmers from planting a second crop this year.
Water for rice farmers and 12 of Galveston County’s 14 municipalities comes from the Gulf Coast Water Authority, which gets all its water from the Brazos River.
“The river dried up and we started using stored water,” said Ivan Langford, the water authority’s general manager.
The Brazos reached such low levels that the authority is operating on 90,000 acre-feet of water purchased from reservoirs owned by the Brazos River Authority, Langford said. An acre-foot is about 326,000 gallons, or roughly a year’s supply for three to four households.
The purchased water will last about 180 days under current conditions, Langford said. The authority asked cities to declare stage-two drought alerts, with mixed results. Not all cities have complied with the water use restrictions and in Galveston, water usage increased despite the alert.
The water authority [last] Monday asked cities to issue a second-stage drought alert, involving mandatory limits on outdoor water use. Langford said water consumption spikes by about 17 million gallons a day in the summer, mostly because of outdoor use.
Compliance appears to be spotty. Galveston adopted its stage two alert June 25, but usage has increased since then, said David Van Riper, Galveston municipal utilities director. “We’re using up our water reserves right now,” Van Riper said.
Yeah, it’s pretty bad, and it’s not looking like it will get better any time soon. The Brazos is a big river. If it can basically dry up, what else can happen? It’s scary stuff.