The Brazos River is among the longest rivers in the US. It stretches for about 1,281 miles from its source in Blackwater Draw, New Mexico, to the Gulf of Mexico. Its drainage basin extends over 44,000 square miles. As one of the largest rivers in Texas, it marks the border between West Texas and East Texas. The Brazos is associated with the history of the state, especially the settlement of Austin and the Texas Revolution.
Geography Of Brazos River
The Brazos rises at the confluence of Double Mountain Fork and Salt Fork tributaries in Curry County, New Mexico. The river flows for over 840 miles before merging with the Clear Fork River on the outskirts of Graham to form the Lower Brazos. Several tributaries join the river, including Paluxy River, Little River, Bosque River, Leon River, Nolan River, Navasota River, and Lampasas River. The Brazos flows east across Dallas before turning south and flowing through Baylor University. It runs further south towards Calvert and Brayan and into Richmond. It drains into the Mexican Gulf, a few miles from Freeport. The river is dammed thrice to form Lake Granbury, Lake Whitney, and Possum Kingdom Lake. Whitney Dam is used for flood control, hydroelectric power generation, and to irrigate vast acres of cotton.
The Brazos watershed extends over 45,000 square miles and hosts over 40 lakes, streams, and rivers with a combined capacity of approximately 2.45 million acre-feet. The basin also stores 120,000 acre-feet of underground water. About 30% of the basin is used for agricultural purposes, 60% is grassland, while the rest is urban settlement.
Water Quality Of The Brazos River
The quality of water in the Brazos River drainage basin has raised concerns due to high salinity, bacteria levels, and nutrient loads. The level of dissolved oxygen is also lower compared to other rivers. The poor water quality is attributed to chemical and fertilizer runoff and livestock rearing. Fracking in mines has also degraded the water quality. The Barnett Shale is among the most productive natural gas mines in the country, is located within the watershed. Research shows that the river receives about 17,500 tonnes of waste annually.
Canoeing and boating are popular activities along the river since it has suitable locations for launch and recovery. Good paddling spots are located immediately below Lake Granbury and Possum Kingdom Lake. Camping is permitted along the entire stretch of the Brazos since it is publicly owned property. Outdoor enthusiasts enjoy the scenery and engage in fishing activities.