As Texas’ population continues to skyrocket, a popular phrase has appeared with increasing regularity in the speeches of local and state leaders: "Water is the new oil." If that adage proves true, it’s safe to say former Sherman Mayor David Sprowl, who died Saturday at the age of 73, left Grayson County with a bonanza.

As Texas’ population continues to skyrocket, a popular phrase has appeared with increasing regularity in the speeches of local and state leaders: "Water is the new oil." If that adage proves true, it’s safe to say former Sherman Mayor David Sprowl, who died Saturday at the age of 73, left Grayson County with a bonanza.


Services for Mr. Sprowl will be held at 2 p.m. on Wednesday at Sherman’s United Methodist Church.


"David was instrumental in making sure our region had the water we needed," said fellow former Sherman Mayor Bill Magers. "I would say that his vision and his ability to look 30 years down the road made him one of the true leaders of Sherman and Grayson County. He understood that water would be critical to this area’s future growth. The fruits of his efforts — we’re seeing them every day."


Elected to the Sherman City Council in the late 1970s and as mayor in 1983, Mr. Sprowl identified water as a priority early in his tenure. Prior to Mr. Sprowl’s efforts, Sherman relied entirely upon a handful of wells drilled into the Woodbine and Trinity aquifers — shrinking subterranean stores of water that are expected to recede as much 170 feet over the next five decades.


Thanks to a statute passed in 1957 by longtime U.S. Speaker of the House Sam Rayburn, the city had claim to 25,000 acre-feet of surface water from Lake Texoma. But without a way to transport the water 15-miles south and no means of cleaning it once they did, those millions of gallons were nothing more than a number buried in the annals of federal law. As a result, if rainfall was short one year, so was the supply of drinking water.


"Sherman had been wanting to develop water from Lake Texoma since the ’50s, but nothing was ever done about it, and of course we used to suffer each year. When it’d be a dry year, there’d be water rationing in Sherman," said Jerry Chapman, a college friend of Mr. Sprowl who worked with him for decades as general manager of the Greater Texoma Utility Authority. "When David got to the Council and mayor’s office, he set in motion those things necessary to make the surface water available to Sherman."


After the creation of GTUA in 1979 gave the area’s cities flexibility to finance large water improvement projects, Mr. Sprowl stepped in. He was uniquely equipped to make the city’s quarter-century-old desire for a lifeline to the lake a realty, said Chapman.


"He was very supportive and led the effort to get the financing necessary to begin the construction process on the pump station and the pipeline and the treatment plant so that Sherman would have a long-term water supply it could depend on," said Chapman. "I remember when he was deciding to run for Council and subsequently mayor, and he called and told me he felt like he could contribute something, and I think he did."


After the conclusion of his public service, Mr. Sprowl had a successful career as a financier, retiring in 2006. Three years later, he returned to the public eye as a member of GTUA’s Board, a position he held until his death. Chapman said Mr. Sprowl remained active within the organization, even while fighting the cancer that would eventually claim his life.


"He kept attending those meetings and served on the search committee (for a new general manager to replace the retiring Chapman), even though he did not feel well at all. He would make himself come to those meetings to make sure things went on as he thought they should and hoped they would. That was pretty remarkable, in my estimation."


Chapman said Mr. Sprowl was an active member of the Sherman community, which may never fully know his work to improve the city.


"As far as an individual, he never wanted attention drawn to himself. He did a lot of things in the community and for Sherman that people will never know that he did," said Chapman. "He was just a far-sighted individual who knew how to get things accomplished. In my estimation, David should be given credit for the adequacy of the Sherman water supply today."


"David was always optimistic. He always a guy who was interested in doing whatever path he set himself to. He was a friendly and outgoing guy," said Chapman, who will serve as pallbearer. "I counted it a privilege to call myself a friend of his, and I know other people in the community feel likewise."