Words by Melissa McGavock | Photography by LP Taylor Photography
Fishing off the dock, dipping your toes in the water, watching the sunset over the lake, these are some of life’s sweet moments we cherish and look forward to. Some people plan a vacation for it, some people make it their permanent way of life. The waterfront lifestyle is sought after. Looking back over the last 50 years, since Lake Granbury’s inception we are reminded of the lake’s value, not only for the beautiful views and recreation, but the lasting local economy it’s provided us.
2019 marks the 50th year since Lake Granbury’s creation. Like all but one naturally formed lake in Texas (Caddo Lake), Lake Granbury was man-made. Our lake is both beautiful and convenient to the Metroplex. Undistracted by urban conditions, Granbury offers a place to relax and unwind. It’s setting provides a place for fisherman, water sport enthusiasts, lakeside recreation, travelers and residents. The lake sustains the area that surrounds it, too. The Brazos River Authority explains that Lake Granbury provides for “much of Hood and Johnson Counties and the Comanche Peak Nuclear Power Plant.”
A dam is constructed to control and suppress water flow causing its level to rise. This pressure (energy) is used to generate electricity and sometimes water supply. This is true for Lake Granbury whose water’s industrial use includes cooling water for a natural gas-fired steam electric power plant and Comanche Peak Nuclear Power Plant near Glen Rose. Also, the reserves supply water to Hood and Johnson counties for municipal use.
DeCordova Bend Dam was made by the Brazos River Authority (BRA) and the principle funded by Comanche Peak Power Plant. “On average, 43,000 acre-feet per year is pumped from Lake Granbury to Squaw Creek Reservoir for use at the current Comanche Peak plant.” The lake continues to be managed by the BRA for industry and water supply as permitted by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.
Construction on the dam began in December of 1966 and was completed nearly three years later in September 1969. The Texas Department of Water in Report 284 on the water quality of Lake Granbury states, “Deliberate impoundment of water began on September 15, 1969, and by November 1, 1969, the lake had accumulated 150,000 acre-feet. The lake has a capacity of 153,500 acre-feet at an elevation of 693 feet. In its deepest areas in the drowned channel of the Brazos River, Lake Granbury is as much as 70 feet deep.”
By definition, Lake Granbury is actually a reservoir. A reservoir is a man made “lake,” and people who live on a reservoir should be prepared for the water levels to fluctuate often. It also comes with responsibility, as this water is for household (municipal) use, it’s important to maintain your lakefront property, your septic systems, and refrain from dumping harmful materials into the lake (reservoir).
In addition to economic value, the lake, of course, offers a laid-back, waterfront lifestyle. With the creation of Lake Granbury came residents looking for a more relaxed homelife. Also, the lake is an added boost for tourism, for which there’s a local economy that thrives on Lake Granbury being a vacation destination. For a relatively small community, this means longevity and the opportunity for steady growth. The U.S. Census record shows the population of Granbury in 1970 was 2,473. The estimated population size in 2017 according to the Texas State Data Center was 9,679; and shows a climb that has been relatively steady, averaging a couple hundred people per year. Our reservoir provides enough water for residents’ needs, as well it is a sustainable source for irrigation and industrial demands. As an added benefit, for the most part, we get all the lakeside views and water recreation our hearts desire.
As for recreation, Lake Granbury has five public parks. These are Thorp Spring Park, Hunter Park, City Beach, Rough Creek Park, and the Al Brooks Jr. Observation Point. Our parks are equipped with some or all of the following amenities: fishing piers, picnic tables, public restrooms, boat launching ramps, and primitive campsites. An attraction for sports fishermen and hobby fishermen alike, Lake Granbury is home to Largemouth Bass, Striped Bass, White Bass, Channel and Flathead Catfish, White Crappie and Sunfish.
Often, the lake is at the center of our community’s culture, providing the stage and the scenery for many of our town’s festivals and holidays. For General Granbury’s Birthday in March, we host bull riding on the City Beach, for New Years and 4th of July we enjoy fireworks over the water, for Labor Day weekend Granbury hosts Lake Fest, a weekend dedicated to this end of summer celebration, complete with activities like kayaking, water-skiing and even a nighttime lighted boat parade.
Access to sun, water, and a quiet place to connect with nature is something we residents of Lake Granbury may take advantage of from time to time. However, the shared experience of being surrounded by water connects us. It makes the sweltering Texas summers a little more bearable, and special moments a little more beautiful. The landscape may change now and again, as lake levels fluctuate, weather affects our countryside, and more families settle here. However, our shared bond will continue to grow, as our community inevitably thrives; and a shared passion for the water and simple pleasures will always be something we have in common. So, the next time you drive over the lake, recall and cherish this place we get to call home, carefully placed along Lake Granbury, the conduit that sustains and comforts our way of life. That may never change, at least for a very long time.
Sources: Brazos River Authority, Texas Parks and Wildlife, Texas Department of Water Resources