Productive Partnerships in Fannin County Help Ensure Success of Bois d’Arc Lake Project

NTWMD, local and state agencies worked together to benefit the North Texas region, ensure the success of the new reservoir

By Billy George

Bois d’Arc Lake was completed in the fall of 2022, the first new reservoir built in Texas in over 30 years. Decades of planning and permitting went into this new water supply, which spans more than 16,000 acres of surface water in Fannin County.

Projects such as Bois d’Arc Lake span multiple jurisdictions, including federal, state, county, and municipal organizations, and require building mutually beneficial partnerships. As the steward of Bois d’Arc Lake, the North Texas Municipal Water District (NTMWD) prioritized local partnerships to ensure public well-being now and in the future. Together, these partnerships create successful solutions for our growing region that no single entity could provide on its own.

The construction of Bois d’Arc Lake didn’t just create a new water supply for the region; it also focused on the sustainable development of the surrounding area to enhance economic and recreational opportunities without sacrificing the environment. Collaboration with local partners led to many tangible benefits for the residents of Fannin County.

Partnering on County Infrastructure Improvements

Early on in the Bois d’Arc Lake project, relationships were forged with Fannin County, the Cities of Bonham and Leonard, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD), the Fannin County Historical Society, and other local stakeholders. NTMWD engaged with entities such as the National Wildlife Federation and the Sierra Club during permitting of the lake.

With support from NTMWD, Fannin County developed a comprehensive plan for development around the lake, including zoning and development guidance. All partners involved in the comprehensive plan development process shared the goals of protecting the quality of the water and improving transportation and communication access for residents.

Previously, Fannin County included many areas that were not covered by radio or cellular service, so the District worked to enhance public safety by funding a communications tower to improve radio coverage in the vicinity of Bois d’Arc Lake for first responders and law enforcement. In addition, older wooden plank bridges prone to flooding were reconstructed to Texas Department of Transportation’s current standards to improve everyday access for local residents. A new road and bridge (FM 897) were constructed across the lake to help maintain roadway access in Fannin County. NTMWD also partnered with Fannin County Sheriff’s Department and Texas Parks and Wildlife to ensure public safety on and around the lake by providing facility access and resources to support efforts to expand their services to Bois d’Arc Lake.

In addition to these safety measures, NTMWD constructed two new water treatment plants in Fannin County: one in Leonard to treat water from Bois d’Arc Lake and one built earlier to replace an obsolete, poorly functioning plant in Bonham. As part of its support for local communities, NTMWD is committed to providing drinking water from these treatment plants to meet the future needs of Fannin County.

Working Together to Benefit Local Communities

Throughout the reservoir project, NTMWD worked closely with Fannin County and local school districts to prevent the loss of tax revenue due to property acquisition for the reservoir. During the construction of the lake, NTMWD made to Fannin County and local school districts to ensure that their revenues were not negatively impacted by the lake.

To prepare for future recreational use of Bois d’Arc Lake, NTMWD constructed three public boat ramps and picnic areas for day use. The new NTMWD Lake Operations Center also includes an Emergency Operations Center, nature center, and overnight quarters for Fannin County and TPWD personnel, who are partnering with Fannin County on public safety for Bois d’Arc Lake. TPWD is also responsible for wildlife management on the lake, including enhancing the lake’s fish habitat and introducing trophy-class fish species while the lake was under construction.

The Lake Operations Center was also designed to serve as an educational resource. Local school districts host teacher development events at the Lake Operations Center, and Dodd City ISD is also utilizing the facilities to enhance its public education initiatives.

Bois d’Arc Lake was only made possible due to the strength of all the local, state, and private partners involved. These partnerships transcend city limits and county lines, and rural and urban communities. Water resources are not confined to political boundaries and working together to develop and protect precious water resources while also providing economic and recreational opportunities is in the best interests of all Texans.

Our collaboration with local communities in Fannin County to preserve and enhance the quality of our shared new reservoir and the surrounding natural environment underscores NTMWD’s commitment to serving North Texas as a responsible steward. This lake will serve as a reliable source of safe drinking water for millions of North Texans, a critical wildlife habitat, and a natural playground for residents of all ages to enjoy for generations to come. The Bois d’Arc Lake project is emblematic of the District’s desire to build strong working relationships that turn into long-term partnerships.