What’s the project?
With a nearly mile-long dam on the Clear Fork of the Brazos River, the Cedar Ridge Reservoir would cover 6,600 acres and contain approximately 74 billion gallons of water to be transmitted to Abilene by pipeline.
What’s at risk?
Building Cedar Ridge Reservoir would change a critical part of Texas history. Christened los Brazos de Dios, or “the arms of God,” by explorer Francisco Vazquez de Coronado, Texans have sailed, fished, canoed and swum along Texas’ longest river for centuries. It’s the lifeblood of much of the Lone Star State.
Cedar Ridge would reduce the flow of the Brazos not only by diverting up to 23,000 acre-feet of water per year for water supply, but also by increasing the amount of water lost to evaporation. One engineer estimated the evaporative losses from Cedar Ridge to be 16,000 acre-feet per year. In fact, the high rate of evaporation in West Texas makes additional lakes and reservoirs impractical for the entire region.
According to Texas Conservation Alliance, "the 6,000+ acres that will be inundated is wonderful wildlife habitat. Most of the trees in the region grow in the river bottoms, making it the best wildlife habitat. Many animal species use the river bottoms, either full time or seasonally or at least for water. Migratory waterfowl and songbirds use the trees in the rivers bottoms to rest and refuel as they migrate back and forth."
What’s the alternative?
Abilene recently began recycling 7 million gallons of treated effluent per day into their water supply lake and is working on bringing additional water from Possum Kingdom Reservoir. With these and other sources already in place, Abilene has sufficient water to meet its projected demands for municipal water supply throughout the fifty-year planning horizon. Should additional water ever be needed by the city or its smaller customer communities, water could be pumped from the Clear Fork of the Brazos into Hubbard Creek Reservoir (one of Abilene’s current water supply lakes) for storage there at lower cost than building Cedar Ridge. Additional water could also be brought cost-effectively from Possum Kingdom.