Why are there so many man-made lakes in Texas?

by The Brazos River Authority

Natural lakes have been a rare commodity in Texas. In fact, the state had only one natural lake, Caddo Lake in East Texas, that was formed by a log jam.  A permanent dam was installed at the lake in the early 20th century.

A large number of the state’s remaining lakes were made in response to the occasional propensity of Texas’ usually tranquil rivers to flood during heavy rains.

Texas’ early history is filled with accounts of devastating floods causing loss of human life and destroying livestock and property, particularly along the Brazos. As a result, in the 1930s and 40s officials began building dams along Texas rivers to create flood control reservoirs that would absorb the floodwaters and alleviate damage and loss of life.  

 Possum Kingdom Lake (left) was built during this period. Momentum for such flood control projects picked up during the 1950s and the US Army Corps of Engineers was tasked with building several more lakes for flood control over the next several decades. Ironically, the worst drought of record for Texas took place during the 1950s, prompting emphasis on a second priority for these lakes: water supply . 



About us

The Brazos River Authority was created by the Texas Legislature in 1929 as the first state agency in the country with the purpose of developing and managing the water resources of an entire river basin. Today, the Authority develops and distributes water supplies, provides water and wastewater treatment, monitors water quality, and pursues water conservation through public education programs. Although the Authority is an agency of the state, it does not levy or collect taxes and is entirely self-supporting.


The information provided on this site is intended as background on water within the Brazos River basin. There should be no expectation that this information is all encompassing, complete or in any way examines every aspect of this very complex natural resource. 


If you have questions about a post or would like additional information, please contact us at information@brazos.org or call 888-922-6272.