KETR

U.S. House Approves Bill That Would Accelerate Lower Bois d'Arc Creek Reservoir Construction

Oct 12, 2016

The U.S. House of Representatives has moved the creation of a delayed Fannin County reservoir one step closer construction.

An amendment to the Water Resources Development Act of 2016 would allow a group of North Texas municipalities to move forward on the project.

The proposed Lower Bois d’Arc Creek Reservoir is a year behind schedule as the Environmental Protection Agency reviews its impact.

Rep. Sam Johnson, who introduced the amendment, said the proposed lake in eastern Fannin County was needed to meet population growth in Collin County and other parts of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex.

“This goes beyond water rationing for lawns. This is about water as part of our normal, daily routine,” he said in a late September statement.

The amendment was sponsored by representatives Johnson, Eddie Bernice, Pete Sessions, and John Ratcliffe, representing districts in the Dallas area and Northeast Texas.

The bill would require that the Environmental Protection Agency issue a final permit for the reservoir no later than September 2017. That would be a year earlier than had been anticipated.

Tom Kula, executive director of the North Texas Municipal Water District, the agency building the lake, called its construction “essential.”

“We must start construction of the Lower Bois d’Arc Creek Reservoir as soon as possible to avoid the risk of water shortages,” Kula said.

The water district serves 1.6 million people to the north and east of Dallas, which together form one of the fastest-growing areas in the U.S.

Without the lake, the district expects a water deficit to hit those areas starting in 2021.

In early September, the Environmental Protection Agency said it was committed to the project and to improving the permitting process.

Opponents of the project object to the planned destruction of thousands of acres of privately owned farmland and millions of trees. So far, the district has purchased about 86 percent of the land required to build the reservoir.

Federal mitigation requirements would require the purchase and preservation of land elsewhere similar to the land that would be submerged by the lake in order to offset the environmental effects.

Fannin County’s commissioners court is expected to approve the first step in zoning the lake at a meeting on Oct. 18 in Bonham.