Region at Serious Risk of Water Shortage without Reservoir

This week the North Texas Municipal Water District (NTMWD) received and accepted the long-awaited federal permit needed to construct the Lower Bois d’Arc Creek Reservoir.  The permit, issued by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, comes just in time – tremendous population growth in North Texas, coupled with a deficit of rain over the last decade, has put the region at a serious risk of a water shortage without this new reservoir in place by 2022. 

The federal permit process was expedited thanks to Congressman Sam Johnson’s (TX-03) bipartisan amendment included in the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation (WIIN) Act (S. 612), which was signed into law on December 16, 2016.  The amendment was co-sponsored by North Texas Representatives Pete Sessions, John Ratcliffe, and Eddie Bernice Johnson.

“This permit is GREAT news for North Texans,” said Johnson.  “Drought is no stranger to Texas, which is why making sure we have the water we need has been a longstanding priority of mine.  Many folks may not be aware that our existing local reservoirs will soon be unable to meet the water demands of our area.  You see, at Collin County’s current rate of projected population growth, by 2022 there is a high risk of a water shortage unless this new reservoir is built.  And the impact of not having this new reservoir would impact daily lives as well as our local economy.  This goes beyond just watering the yard.  It’s about water from the faucet.  But with four years needed to build and fill the reservoir, we’ve been cutting it close. I am proud to have successfully led the bipartisan effort with my neighboring colleagues to expedite the issuance of the permit.  North Texans want, need, and deserve access to clean, reliable water – and it’s great to see the Lower Bois d’Arc Creek Reservoir finally becoming a reality.” 

"We appreciate the tremendous support from Sam Johnson as well as other Congressional leaders and legislators who fought to help us get construction started as soon as possible," said Tom Kula, NTMWD Executive Director.  "They recognize that securing this critical water source is vital for the future of north Texas and supporting residents and economic prosperity in our fast-growing region."

“After years of hard work and engagement with several federal agencies, I am pleased to see leadership at the EPA, Region 6 and the Army Corps of Engineers, Tulsa District have agreed to proceed with a positive permit decision for North Texas Municipal Water District’s Lower Bois d’Arc Creek Reservoir Project,” Congressman Pete Sessions (TX-32) said.  “This project is essential to meet the needs of our rapidly expanding region and will ensure North Texas communities have access to the resources they need to continue to grow and prosper. I thank all the parties involved for their diligent work on this issue.”

“I’m very pleased that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has finally issued the long-awaited federal permit for the construction of the Lower Bois d’Arc Creek Reservoir,” stated Congressman John Ratcliffe (TX-04).  “After a decades-long, hard-fought battle on this important issue, I’m hopeful that construction will begin quickly, so the people of Northeast Texas can benefit from the positive impact it will have on the region.”

“This is extremely good news for North Texas and the future of water delivery in the region,” said Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson (TX-30).  “I am proud to have joined my colleagues in the Texas Delegation in seeing this through.  The population in North Texas is expected to grow precipitously and completion of the Lower Bois d’Arc Creek Reservoir project will ensure that we can meet our water needs into the foreseeable future.  I would like to congratulate and thank everyone involved for this bipartisan effort.”

Legislative Background:

On September 28, 2016, the House of Representatives passed Congressman Johnson’s amendment to expedite the federal approval of the Lower Bois d’Arc Creek Reservoir as part of the Water Resources Development Act (H.R. 5303).  It was then modified in conference committee and included in S. 612, the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation (WIIN) Act. Former-President Obama signed S. 612 into law on December 16, 2016.

Specifically, Johnson’s 2016 amendment required the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) to expedite the federal permitting process for the Lower Bois d’Arc Creek Reservoir, and also required a report to Congress on its progress. Johnson authored the amendment because federal regulators had already spent nearly a decade reviewing the project, and the permitting process appeared far from over. As required by the amendment, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers submitted a report to Congress in July of 2017 with an updated timeline that anticipated a final Record of Decision to be finalized by January 2018.