To the editor:
Last year, rainfall in the state of Texas was 20 inches below normal, creating a drought of record in many areas. So far this year, we have already received 20 inches more rain than the average for this time of year. Events from both years have brought to light just how fortunate we are that our state and federal leadership began planning for these events more than 75 years ago.
Massive floods of 1913 and 1921 took the lives of hundreds of Texans and left thousands homeless. These events spurred our leaders to begin planning and building a series of flood control and water supply reservoirs to serve the state in times of need It was this system of lakes that went to work during recent flooding to minimize damage and loss of life.
Within the Brazos basin, 11 U.S. Army Corps of Engineers flood control lakes served their originally intended purpose of slowing flood waters from moving downstream. Though several areas of the Brazos basin experienced significant flooding upstream of the Corps of Engineers lakes, without this system of lakes the result of these events would have been devastating to areas of McLennan, Bell, and Williamson counties, and downstream areas in Fort Bend and Brazoria counties.
During the multi-year drought that has just ended (it’s almost hard to remember how dry it was last summer!), the Corps lakes, along with the three Brazos River Authority lakes, provided a reliable water supply for the growing needs of the Brazos basin and the state.
Throughout both the drought and the flooding events, there are several organizations that should be commended for working together as an integrated team to manage the rivers and lakes within the basin.
The folks at the National Weather Service, the State Emergency Operations Offices, the River Forecast Center, county emergency management centers and staffs at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Brazos River Authority all worked together to insure proper information would be relayed, dams would be operated in the most efficient manner possible and emergency aid would be available where it was needed.
Many of these professionals worked round-the-clock for weeks to insure the safety of their fellow citizens. Their efforts should also be credited with minimizing damage to homes and property and reducing the need for insurance claims that help stabilize insurance rates.
Though we’ve yet to know what the rest of the year will bring, we can rest assured that a system, first imagined and built over a half-century ago, has worked as intended saving property and lives, and meeting the area’s water needs — again, thanks to the foresight of those who have preceded us.
Phil Ford, GM/CEO
Brazos River Authority