Bois d’Arc Lake’s Completion Marks Major Milestone in NTWMD’s Long-Range Water Supply Planning Efforts

With rapid growth in the region, future planning efforts focus on bringing additional water supplies to NTMWD’s service area

By R.J. Muraski

Bois d’Arc Lake, Texas’ first major reservoir in nearly 30 years, is already providing water for the North Texas Municipal Water District’s Member Cities and Customers. The lake’s firm yield of 82 million gallons of water per day—the maximum amount of water that can be delivered during a record drought—serves as a cornerstone of our long-range planning efforts.

Bois d’Arc Lake took decades to complete and adds to the District’s existing water supplies from Lavon Lake, Lake Texoma, Jim Chapman Lake, Lake Tawakoni, and the East Fork Water Reuse Project. Bois d’Arc Lake is the first reservoir wholly owned and operated by the North Texas Municipal Water District (NTMWD).

While Bois d’Arc Lake will help ensure a safe and reliable water supply for our region over the next decade, as we look to the future, more water will be needed for our rapidly growing service area. Over the next 30 years, the population served by NTMWD is expected to nearly double. Every year, an estimated 55,000 people move into NTMWD’s service area, and nearly half of The Dallas Morning News’ North Texas “boomtowns” are currently served by NTMWD.

By 2070, our projections show we’ll need an additional 360 million gallons of water per day, the equivalent of roughly four-and-a-half Bois d’Arc Lakes. To meet the needs of our region, there’s no single solution, and there’s no simple solution. It’s going to take a combination of new water supply projects, water conservation and reuse to meet North Texas’ future needs.

What is Long-Range Water Supply Planning?

Our long-range water supply plan identifies potential sources and delivery options for additional water for North Texas residents and businesses and sets a course of action for properly managing and protecting our precious water resources. To ensure we meet our water needs for generations to come, we plan fifty years into the future.

NTMWD and its Board of Directors continuously review our long-range approach to develop plans that include numerous strategies for the stewardship and development of water sources. We also collaborate with the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) administrators of the Regional and State Water Planning (SWP) process to address the water needs of all Texans for the next fifty years. These planning processes are vital to delivering water where it needs to go for our service area both now and decades into the future.

NTMWD must maintain flexibility throughout the planning process because the future is uncertain no single water supply project is guaranteed.

How Does Planning Work?

Every five years, NTMWD participates in the development of an updated SWP. As part of the planning process, the state is divided into regions, and NTWMD is located in Region C, comprised of all or parts of 16 counties, including the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. In Region C, our population is projected to grow from more than 7.5 million today to more than 10 million in 2040 and nearly 14.7 million in 2070.

The planning process spans the next 50 years of life, growth, and development in NTMWD’s service area, including projected population growth and forecasted water demands. In addition, less predictable scenarios are accounted for during the planning process, including drought and climate variability.

Future water planning must be holistic. During the planning process, NTMWD and partners must collaborate and be thoughtful about the environment for any potential future source—surface or groundwater—while being fiscally reliable and responsible.

Conservation and reuse remain key considerations in the planning process. NTMWD already has rights to significant quantities of reused water, including our East Fork Water Reuse Project, a wetland that is designed to deliver up to 90 MGD. We also pursue water conservation aggressively within our service area and through partnerships in the region. It is estimated that around 30% of the additional water supplies needed by 2070 will come from aggressive water conservation outreach and collaborative water reuse strategies.

NTMWD evaluates all potential water supply strategies through a comprehensive approach that considers local community support and benefits, environmental impacts, water quality and reliability of supply, regulatory requirements, financial considerations, and project timeline to implementation. The Board of Directors, employees, and key partners have provided valuable input, and significant strides have been taken to adopt a comprehensive long-range water supply plan.

What’s next for the region’s water supplies?

The completion of Bois d’Arc Lake marks a significant milestone in our current long-range water supply plan. Moving forward, NTMWD will continue to pursue a variety of strategies outlined in the most recent Region C Water Plan, including acquiring water rights and moving water from existing reservoirs and groundwater aquifers, the construction of new reservoirs with other partners in the region, and new conservation and reuse initiatives. Other innovative solutions are also being considered, like aquifer storage and recovery, which offers benefits similar to those of reservoirs by storing water directly in the ground for future use.

Decisions made today will result in decades of reliable, safe drinking water for generations of North Texans who call this region home for their families and businesses. Through our long-range planning process, NTMWD remains vigilant in upholding its vision of providing regional service through unity and meeting our region’s needs today and tomorrow.