Brownsville PUB Just Initiated Higher Water Restrictions For The First Time Since The 90's
It’s official. The Brownsville Public Utilities Board (BPUB) announced on Friday that the community is now under Stage 2 Water Restrictions — something that hasn’t happened since the 90's.
The statement from BPUB says that “Stage Two is implemented when water levels at the Amistad and Falcon International Reservoirs reach 25 percent or 834,600 acre-feet.”
Depending on how this is calculated, that could mean that levels are now at least a full 10 points lower than the numbers last reported by The International Water and Boundary Commission less than a month ago, which would have put both reservoirs collectively at around 34.5% capacity.
BPUB doesn’t make it clear if the 25% threshold applies to either reservoir or a sum of both.
The drought affecting the American West and Northern Mexico is beginning to increase water scarcity in the region. As I was researching a story about water becoming a black market south of the border this week, I also spoke with several experts on the US side that said Zapata County and The Rio Grande Valley running out of water in the next few weeks is “a real possibility.”
The two reservoirs that provide water for our region, Amistad and Falcon, are now extremely depleted and residents in the region are starting to become aware of the possibilities.
Full statement from BPUB:
Due to dropping water reservoir levels, the Brownsville Public Utilities Board (BPUB) will implement water restrictions under Stage Two of the Drought Contingency Plan effective Friday, July 29, 2022. Stage Two is implemented when water levels at the Amistad and Falcon International Reservoirs reach 25 percent or 834,600 acre-feet.
“Water conservation is vital to BPUB’s water supply,” said John S. Bruciak, General Manager and CEO. “Conservation helps ensure that the city’s water supply can get us through these summer months.”
The goal of Stage 2 is a five percent reduction in average daily water demands and a ten percent reduction in maximum daily water demands on BPUB. Listed below are the restrictions under Stage 2 set forth by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ):
Vehicle washing is allowed two days a week between 7 p.m. and 10 a.m.
Non-essential watering is prohibited, such as washing buildings, using water for dust control, or allowing water to runoff into streets.
Lawn watering by a sprinkler system is restricted to two days a week based on the last digit of the service area and from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m.
Variances must be acquired from the BPUB office to water new landscapes outside the landscape irrigation schedule for four weeks since the date of planting.
BPUB’s Water Plant №1 and Water Plant №2 can provide a maximum of 40 million gallons of water daily to meet the needs of Brownsville residents. To further support water demands, especially during drought conditions, BPUB’s 93 percent share of the Southmost Regional Water Authority (SRWA), a brackish groundwater treatment facility, ensures that customers always count on an alternate water source, reducing reliance on the Rio Grande.
Customers can rest assured that BPUB will continue to provide the best service to residents and keep them abreast of any developments in the area’s drought conditions. For more information on the Drought Contingency Plan and its different stages, customers visit www.brownsville-pub.com.
More to come on this story.
You can read my recent article for Texas Public Radio here: Water becomes a black market south of the border, experts say scarcity could impact Texas border communities soon
You can also check out audio from my extended interview with a local hydrology research scientist here: Deep Dive: Full interview with Texas-Mexico border water expert Dr. Jude A. Benavides