House approves bill to put North Texas reservoir project on track

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Bois d'Arc

The Lower Bois d’Arc Creek Reservoir is a critical component for the North Texas region’s long-term water supply. (via Community Impact Newspaper)

A resolution to help the North Texas Municipal Water District get its largest project to date online sooner rather than later was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives on Sept. 28.

The Water Resources Development Actnow up for a vote in the Senate—requires the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to issue a final permit for the construction of the Lower Bois d’Arc Creek Reservoir no later than Sept. 30, 2017.

The resolution was introduced in February by U.S. Rep. Sam Johnson, R-Plano, and was co-sponsored by co-sponsored by U.S. Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Dallas, and U.S. Rep. John Ratcliffe, R-Heath, and U.S. Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Waco).

Planning for the reservoir has taken more than a decade to complete and more than $122 million has been spent for its construction.

“At Collin County’s current rate of projected population growth, by 2021 we will not have enough water to meet demand unless a new reservoir is built,” Johnson said in a news release. “This goes beyond water rationing for lawns.  This is about water as part of our normal, daily routine.”

Delays in beginning construction on the reservoir arose in 2008 from efforts to obtain a Clean Water Act, or 404, permit from the EPA. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the EPA submitted an impact statement to the water district asking for additional environmental studies using an assessment model that has not yet been fully developed, NTMWD spokesperson Janet Rummel said.

“Water conservation alone will not be enough to support a population that is expected to double over the next 50 years.”

—Tom Kula, executive director, North Texas Municipal Water District

Fulfilling these requests would have meant a one- to two-year delay and an estimated $17 million increase in construction costs, she said. The district had planned to begin construction in 2015. The expected date for delivering water from the reservoir has been pushed back to 2022 if the needed permit is received in 2018, Rummel said.

Located in Fannin County, the new reservoir is a critical component for the North Texas region’s long-term water supply, according to the NTMWD. The additional water source needed to be online by 2021 in order to meet growing demand, according to district officials. The number of people served by the water district is expected to more than double in size by 2070, according to the district.

The new source will also enable the district to maximize its existing water supplies, according the NTMWD.

“This reservoir is essential to meet the needs of 90 communities in the ten counties served by the North Texas Municipal Water District,” Tom Kula, executive director of NTMWD, said in the release. “We supply water to one of the fastest-growing regions in the nation, and water conservation alone will not be enough to support a population that is expected to double over the next 50 years. We must start construction of the Lower Bois d’Arc Creek Reservoir as soon as possible to avoid the risk of water shortages.”

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