A critically needed reservoir to serve the booming counties north and east of Dallas has received its water rights permit from the Texas Commission of Environmental Quality. This would be the next-to-last step for the North Texas Municipal Water District to build its Lower Bois d’Arc Creek Reservoir in Fannin County.

A critically needed reservoir to serve the booming counties north and east of Dallas has received its water rights permit from the Texas Commission of Environmental Quality. This would be the next-to-last step for the North Texas Municipal Water District to build its Lower Bois d’Arc Creek Reservoir in Fannin County.


The permit, approved June 26 but with a month-long appeal period, leaves just one major permit to obtain — a Section 404 permit under the federal Clean Water Act from the Army Corps of Engineers.


District officials said they’re working closely with the corps and Region 6 of the Environmental Protection Agency to get that last permit as soon as possible.


"Our target date has been late 2015, early 2016 to obtain the permit and begin construction in early 2016," said Tom Kula, the district’s executive director and former commander of the corps’ Southwestern Division in Dallas.


The total cost of the project is just less than $1 billion.


There’s still some work to be done to get that final permit, Kula said.


"The corps has provided some draft comments, and now it’s looking at comments from all the [federal] agencies, how those will be addressed" in the final environmental impact statement, he said.


Plus, there is still land to be assembled. The district owns about 82 percent of the reservoir site, district Deputy Director Mike Rickman said.


"We still have some property to acquire. Some of that is very small slivers of land. Some are larger tracts with clouded titles," he said. "And frankly, there are some who don’t want to sell. It’s important to them to be the last ones to sell."


In any case, the district is still planning to start construction next year.


"We need to push the schedule because the urgency is now," Kula said. "We need this water source, and we’re projecting that by 2020 we need to be drawing water from it.


"We can’t conserve our way out of this," he said.


By 2020, the district expects to serve more than 2 million customers in Collin, Denton, Rockwall and other fast-growing counties. The district now serves more than 1.6 million people.


The Lower Bois d’Arc Creek Reservoir would provide about 108 million gallons of water a day, district Deputy Director Mike Rickman said, with a water yield slightly greater than Lavon Lake, the district’s major reservoir now.


Rickman said the planned reservoir includes five major projects: building the dam and water intake; pipelines; a new water treatment plant in Leonard; building mitigation areas; and building pump stations. The district already has hired construction managers to build the dam and the mitigation areas.


The district will pull water from Lower Bois d’Arc Creek, part of the Red River system, but the water will be treated at a plant in the Trinity River basin, Rickman said.


Water moving through the new terminal storage reservoir at the treatment plant has to drain back into the Red River because of the zebra mussel issue that cost the district another of its major reservoirs, Lake Texoma, for several drought-ridden years.


The Upper Trinity Regional Water District, which serves areas to the west of the North Texas district’s counties, also plans to build a reservoir in Fannin County: Lake Ralph Hall.


"Ralph Hall is being worked on right now," Kula said, "but we’re a little ahead in the 404 process.


"And we need ours sooner."


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