The North Texas Municipal Water District (NTMWD) achieved a historic milestone for the Lower Bois d’Arc Creek Reservoir (LBCR) with issuance of a water rights permit from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) on June 26, 2015. It is the first uncontested water rights permit issued by TCEQ for a major reservoir in the last 50 years, and one of the first uncontested inter-basin transfers of water.
“Obtaining permits and constructing reservoirs is no small feat. Our Board of Directors, staff and partners deserve the credit for working as a team to achieve this important milestone,” said Tom Kula, NTMWD Executive Director. “This is a huge step toward the goal of meeting our region’s urgent needs today and ensuring that our children, and our children’s children will have the quantity and quality of water they need in the future.”
Within 50 years, the region served by the NTMWD will be home to about 3.6 million people, more than doubling the current population. To support impending growth and overall supply reliability, the NTMWD is pursuing several long-term water resource strategies, including constructing the new reservoir, continuing emphasis on conservation, and expanding reuse programs to stretch existing supplies.
The thorough and lengthy permitting process required for the LBCR project began in 2006 and involved detailed studies of water supply, environmental impacts, stream flow impacts, legal and other considerations. All surface waters in Texas are owned and allocated by the state, thus projects like the LBCR must obtain a water rights permit issued by TCEQ following extensive hydrologic and environmental review and public process.
“We appreciate the diligent and timely efforts by TCEQ staff to work within our schedule and keep the project moving forward,” said Kula. “This achievement also speaks to our successful collaboration with environmental, landowner and local interests.”
With the LBCR water rights permit approved, the project must now secure a Section 404 permit, under the Clean Water Act, from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE). A Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the project has been completed, and the NTMWD is working with USACE and other participating agencies to address comments submitted during that public process.
“Our team is focused on building an environmentally responsible project and continuing to provide a reliable water supply to residents and businesses for decades to come,” Kula added. “The future of north Texas depends on it.”
In another positive development, last week the Texas Water Development Board authorized more than $82 million in financial assistance for land acquisition and construction mitigation work on the LBCR. This will provide the opportunity to finance part of the project with a low-interest rate from the State Water Implementation Fund for Texas (SWIFT) with potential savings of about $9.7 million.
Construction on the LBCR is anticipated to begin as soon as remaining permits are approved. The target schedule includes the use of SWIFT funding and construction beginning in early 2016.
- NTMWD will plan, finance, build and operate the Reservoir in coordination with local, state and federal authorities, including the City of Bonham, Fannin County, Texas Water Development Board, Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, among others. Although land acquisition, permitting, funding, environmental impacts and mitigation will conform to the standards and guidelines set by these organizations, NTMWD will solely own and operate the LBCR.
- The LBCR will have a surface area of 16,526 acres, a storage capacity of 367,609 acre-feet, and will yield up to 108 million gallons per day (MGD). In comparison, Lavon Lake (owned and operated by USACE) has a surface area of 21,400, a storage capacity 380,000 acre-feet, and has a yield of 105.9 MGD.
- The NTMWD currently serves a 2,200 square-mile region located in nine counties, including all the territory of its Member Cities: Allen, Farmersville, Forney, Frisco, Garland, McKinney, Mesquite, Plano, Princeton, Richardson, Rockwall, Royse City and Wylie.