Runoff from two days of off-and-on rain is flowing into Lake Brownwood.
The lake had gained 2.74 feet of water as of 10 p.m. Tuesday with an even bigger gain in elevation likely — maybe three or four feet — by the time the runoff stops. It might not be necessary to declare Stage 4 at the August meeting of the Brown County Water Improvement District Board, as previously anticipated.
That’s the assessment of the water district’s general manager, Dennis Spinks, who also cautioned that this is not a drought-ending rain and it’s still necessary to maintain Stage 3 restrictions.
Eight to 10 inches of rain has fallen in places on Lake Brownwood’s watershed.
“I would lean toward not going toward Stage 4,” Spinks said. “I don’t think the urgency is there to go to Stage 4 now. But we need to stay in Stage 3” even if the lake rises to the Stage 2 level.
Lake Brownwood was at 1,414.12 feet Tuesday night, still 10.38 feet below the top of the spillway. The Stage 2 “trigger point” elevation is 1,417 feet; Stage 3 is 1,414; and Stage 4 is 1,411.
“It is a good surprise,” Spinks said. “It will give us some relief. It will give us a little breathing room where maybe we can make it through the summer without going to Stage 4.”
Spinks said, though, the rain and the gain in elevation “could be just a slight reprieve from the drought we’re in. Until the lake gets full, we’re still looking at restrictions.”
Rainfall chances for the next couple of days were “pretty good,” with up to three more inches possible through Thursday, the National Weather Service said.
Water district board member Dennis Graham said July is usually the driest month of the year for Brown County. Graham hoped the “rain in July” will mean a wet fall and “maybe we can get the drought behind us.”
A week ago, Graham said, “we had our back up against the wall” as the lake level continued to fall in the unrelenting hot, dry climate.
Graham noted that past rainfalls have missed the Lake Brownwood watershed. “It couldn’t miss us forever,” Graham said.
It’s a day to celebrate, Graham said, but the community must continue to conserve water. “We still have to be careful. We can’t let our guard down. It’s a day to celebrate the rain we have been blessed with. We do want to continue to conserve water.”