NTMWD Receives Final Permit Needed for Construction of Lower Bois d’Arc Creek Reservoir

Simone Kiel

In a historic step, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) issued its Record of Decision (ROD) on Feb. 2, granting the North Texas Municipal Water District (NTMWD) a Clean Water Act section 404 permit to allow construction of the dam for the long-awaited Lower Bois d’Arc Creek Reservoir near Bonham, Texas. Lower Bois d’Arc will be the first major reservoir to be permitted and built in Texas in 25 years.

Freese and Nichols began working in 2006 with NTMWD, the USACE, and other cooperating agencies to pursue permits necessary to bring this critical component of NTMWD’s water supply program to fruition. In 2015, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), granted NTMWD the water right permit to use the water supplies once impounded. Today, through cooperation with many stakeholders, the NTMWD now has all the necessary permits to construct this monumental project.

Freese and Nichols led a team to help NTMWD develop the project on an accelerated schedule seeking to obtain the necessary permits and concurrently design the dam, raw water pump station, terminal storage reservoir, treated water pipeline, and mitigation areas totaling over 17,000 acres. Freese and Nichols also partnered with Fannin County to develop zoning regulations around the future lakeshore. In addition, Freese and Nichols is providing program management and resident construction management and inspection services for the project. Construction of the project and other system improvements is estimated to cost more than $1.2 billion (2016 dollars). The Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) has already committed $1.2 billion in low-interest funding for the project through the State Water Implementation Fund for Texas (SWIFT) program, which is anticipated to save NTMWD and rate payers nearly $200 million in financing costs.

The reservoir, which will be located in Fannin County, is part of NTMWD’s multi-faceted water supply program, which also includes an award-winning conservation program and the expansion of reuse efforts to meet the rapidly growing water needs of one of the fastest growing urban areas in the nation.

“This is a major milestone for a critical project that will provide water to 1.7 million people living in about 80 communities in North Texas. The lake will be one of the key sources of water to meet the needs of a growing region expected to double in population in the next 50 years,” said Robert Thurmond of Wylie, Texas, President of the NTMWD Board of Directors.

Throughout the permitting process, NTMWD worked with multiple agencies to avoid and minimize the environmental impacts of the project and mitigate those that do occur. The mitigation efforts will provide compensation with approximately 11,000 acres of wetlands, approximately 6,000 acres of upland restoration, and over 74 miles of streams.

“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 … the future of north Texas depends on it,” said Tom Kula, NTMWD Executive Director.

When finished, the reservoir will yield up to 108 MGD of drinking water for North Texas consumers.

Read more from NTMWD about the permit here.