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Liquid Assets: The State of Texas’ Water Resources

Region C Plan


Region C

Region C Map

Text Description of Map of Region C.

Exhibit 14: Map of Region C

The total estimated capital cost of Region C’s strategies is just over $13.2 billion. This amount represents 43 percent of the total capital costs in the State Water Plan.

Region C includes 15 counties and part of another (Henderson). Four of these counties contain most of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex (Exhibit 14). Other cities in the region include Denton, Garland, Corsicana and Waxahachie. The Red River is the northern border of the region (and the state). The Trinity River runs diagonally across the middle of Region C, and almost the entire region lies within the upper part of the Trinity’s basin. The region also contains portions of the Sabine and Sulphur river basins. The area’s economy is based in large part on services, trade, manufacturing and government.

Strategies and Estimated Costs

Region C’s planning group has recommended 59 strategies to meet and even exceed the projected water demands through 2060. The strategies include four new major reservoirs, 18 water reuse projects, three levels of municipal conservation strategies, increased water supplies from various existing sources and work on numerous water utility facilities (Exhibit 15). The total estimated capital cost for the plan’s strategies is just over $13.2 billion. This amount represents 43 percent of the total capital costs in the State Water Plan. These projects would provide Region C with an estimated 2.7 million additional acre-feet of water, for a total of 22 percent more water than the total projected demand in 2060.

The strategies include new connections to Lake Fork and Lake Palestine and additional water from Lake Texoma, blended with more water from Lake Lavon. Several major Metroplex water suppliers are pursuing an option to purchase additional water from Oklahoma in the final decade of the planning period. New reservoirs recommended by the region’s planning group include two within Region C, Ralph Hall and Lower Bois d’Arc, and two outside the region, Marvin Nichols and Lake Fastrill. Only four strategies address groundwater supplies, but another involves using an aquifer to store water for later recovery and use.16

Exhibit 15

Region C Water Management Strategies

Description Capital Costs Water Gained in Acre-Feet Average Capital Cost per Acre-Feet
Conservation $1,097,572 297,647 $4
Groundwater $449,530,624 12,639 $35,567
Surface Water $9,800,286,546 1,627,213 $6,023
Water Reuse $2,952,014,853 722,320 $4,087
Total $13,202,929,595 2,659,819 $4,964

Note: Capital cost figures do not include administrative, programmatic or other costs that may be required to implement water management strategies.

Source: Texas Water Development Board.

The rapid growth of the Metroplex cities within Region C poses the biggest challenge to its water planners. Developing sufficient water supplies for the region is difficult, time-consuming and very expensive, as demonstrated by the recommended water strategies.

Status of Major Water Projects and Strategies

The Region C planning group identified 13 of its recommended strategies as “major,” due to their large projected yield of additional water or because they are new reservoirs. In addition, there are two strategies, facilities improvements and construction and expansion of water treatment plants, that, while not directly attributed with new water supplies, have a combined capital cost of more than $3.4 billion. TWDB has committed partial funding for six of those 15 strategies, as well as five other of Region C’s strategies recommended in the state water plan. All 20 of these projects are surface water or water reuse strategies and together account for 73 percent of Region C’s total projected capital costs and 77 percent of its estimated additional water supplies in 2060.

Surface Water Strategies

Sixteen of the region’s surface water strategies are considered major projects and/or have received some funding from TWDB. Four of these are proposed new reservoirs. Two of these already have partial funding committed to them and are scheduled to be in service by 2020; Lake Ralph Hall received $20.8 million in March 2008 and Lower Bois d’Arc Creek Reservoir received $23.35 million for permitting and mitigation in November 2008.17

The status of the two other new reservoirs is more uncertain. Part of the site for Lake Fastrill has been designated a national wildlife refuge by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and efforts to overturn that decision have failed thus far. Neighboring Region D actively opposes the proposed Marvin Nichols reservoir on the Sulphur River in its territory. The Legislature has created a study commission to look into and make recommendations on the proposal and other water supply alternatives.18

The two strategies involving water facilities and treatment plants received funding for seven different projects in 2007 and 2008. In addition, two pipeline projects have received funds from TWDB. The Collin-Grayson Municipal Alliance Pipeline Project has been underway for several years. It first obtained funding in March 2003 and then again in November 2006. The Terrell/Lawrence Pipeline is a project to bring water taken from Lake Tawakoni on the Sabine River to Lake Lavon on the East Fork of the Trinity, and received TWDB funding in November 2008. This project is in the design phase, with construction expected to begin in mid 2009.19

Two recommended surface water strategies for Region C involve obtaining water from distant sources. The first, the Toledo Bend Project, is a strategy to bring water from a reservoir on the Texas-Louisiana border, while the second involves purchasing water supplies from Oklahoma. The Toledo Bend project is being investigated and discussed by Region C water suppliers and the Sabine River Authority; it is not scheduled to be developed until 2040 at the earliest. The Oklahoma water strategy is not scheduled to supply water until 2060 and currently is stymied by a moratorium on water exports imposed by the Oklahoma Legislature.20

Three more major surface water strategies involve obtaining additional water supplies from existing reservoirs. One of these is a new connection to Lake Fork Reservoir, most of which is already completed, having also been a recommended strategy in the region’s 2001 plan. The final construction and testing of the pumping station is underway. Another new connection, to Lake Palestine, is being designed; the supplier has a contract for the water and the project should be completed by 2015.

The third strategy does not require a new connection, but rather is a plan to obtain additional water from Lake Texoma (which would have to be blended with other water supplies due to its high levels of dissolved salts and minerals). The supplier has the necessary water rights permit and is awaiting a contract with the U.S. Corps of Engineers for storing the water in Lake Texoma. The project is scheduled to begin supplying water by 2020.21

The last of the major surface strategies also involves obtaining more water from an existing supply, in this case by raising the water level and thus increasing the capacity in the Wright Patman Reservoir. The water supplier plans to build the transmission system to get the water to Dallas by 2035 and shows the additional supply in the region’s plan by 2040.22

Water Reuse Strategies

Region C’s plan contains three major reuse strategies, two of which received some funding from TWDB in 2008. In addition, a general reuse strategy, “conveyance with infrastructure,” was partially funded in 2007 and 2008. The funding was designated for delivering reuse water to Fort Worth supply facilities.

Dallas Water Utility (DWU) has multiple projects included within its reuse strategy, with a total capital cost of nearly $455 million. One of these is an indirect reuse project that would take water from a DWU wastewater treatment plant and pump it into an artificially constructed wetland. After the water is further cleaned through filtering by the wetland, it will then be pumped into Lake Ray Hubbard. This project was in the region’s 2001 plan and is scheduled for 2012; TWDB provided $16.6 million for it in 2008. The wetland construction is already completed. Another DWU project that received $30 million from TWDB is the Cedar Crest Pipeline. This direct reuse project is in operation, delivering effluent for irrigation purposes (mostly on golf courses); the 2008 funding was for pipeline construction to take the water to more golf courses, parks and possibly industrial plants.23

The other reuse strategy that received partial funding from TWDB in 2008 is Tarrant Regional Water District’s (TRWD) “Third Pipeline and Reuse” project. This project was in an experimental stage starting in the 1990s, demonstrating the use of constructed wetlands for water treatment, and is now is progressing towards completion of stage one of the project. It involves indirect reuse of return flows into the Trinity River; the water will be diverted from the Trinity (the permit for which has been granted to TRWD), piped into constructed wetlands and then to the Richland-Chambers and Cedar Creek reservoirs. The transmission system and wetlands for Richland-Chambers are completed; the Cedar Creek portion and the “third pipeline” are in a later stage of the project, scheduled for 2018.24

The last major reuse strategy in Region C is very similar to the Richland-Chambers project described above. The East Fork Reuse Project will divert water from return flows to the East Fork of the Trinity River; this project was added to Region C’s 2001 plan by amendment in 2005. The water will be piped to another constructed wetlands for treatment and then transferred to Lake Lavon. East Fork is nearing completion and expected to begin delivering water by the end of 2008.25

According to TWDB, if the strategies listed above are not implemented, residents of Region C could face losses of slightly more than $3 billion in income and 27,760 full and part time jobs by 2010, and nearly $58.8 billion in income and more than 691,000 jobs by 2060. In addition, state and local governments could lose $128 million in annual tax revenue by 2010 and more than $2.5 billion by 2060.26

Regional Challenges and Successes

The rapid growth of the Metroplex cities within Region C poses the biggest challenge to its water planners. Developing sufficient water supplies for the region is difficult, time-consuming and very expensive, as demonstrated by the recommended water strategies.

Most of the strategies in the 2006 regional plan, as well as its 2001 predecessor, are being implemented to some extent. Some of the proposed projects, however, pose significant problems, particularly the proposed Lake Fastrill reservoir site to be located in a designated national wildlife refuge, and the Marvin Nichols reservoir site in Region D, which has specifically recommended that the site not be included in the state water plan.

Other obstacles to Region C’s plan include state restrictions on transfers of water between river basins; difficulties in obtaining surface water rights for smaller water suppliers that previously relied on groundwater sources that are diminishing; and the high-costs of various anticipated construction projects.

Even so, Region C has made significant progress on several of its water management strategies. Five water reuse projects have been permitted and are projected to provide 540,000 acre-feet of water annually to the region. In addition, six new connections to existing supplies have been completed, and a seventh is nearing completion. These resources should bring 351,100 acre-feet of new supplies to the region annually.”27

Endnotes

  • 16 Texas Water Development Board, Water for Texas 2007 (Austin, Texas, January 2007), Volume II, pp. 25-30, www.twdb.state.tx.us/publications/reports/State_Water_Plan/2007/2007StateWaterPlan/CHAPTER%202_Regional%20C%20FINAL_112706.pdf and Texas Water Development Board, Water for Texas 2007 (Austin, Texas, January 2007), Volume II, pp. 333, 335-337, http://www.twdb.state.tx.us/publications/reports/State_Water_Plan/2007/2007StateWaterPlan/APP%202.1_final%20112906.pdf. (Last visited January 2, 2009.)
  • 17 Data provided by Wendy Barron, team lead, Water Supply & Strategy Analysis, Texas Water Development Board, November 4, 2008; and Region C Water Planning Group, 2006 Region C Water Plan: Executive Summary (Grand Prairie, Texas, January 2006), p. ES-10, www.twdb.state.tx.us/rwpg/2006_RWP/RegionC/Executive%20Summary/EXECUTIVE_SUMMARY-final.pdf. (Last visited December 31, 2008.)
  • 18 Texas S.B. 3, 80th Leg., Reg. Session (2007), Section 4.04, “Study Commission on Region C Water Supply,” pp. 86-89, http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/tlodocs/80R/billtext/pdf/SB00003F.pdf. (Last visited January 1, 2009.)
  • 19 Data provided by Wendy Barron, team lead, Water Supply & Strategy Analysis, Texas Water Development Board; and Interview with Mike Rickman, assistant general manager, North Texas Municipal Water District, Wylie, Texas, November 20, 2008.
  • 20 Region C Water Planning Group, 2006 Region C Water Plan (Grand Prairie, Texas, December 2005), pp. 4D.1-2, 4D.9, 4D.16-17, www.twdb.state.tx.us/rwpg/2006_RWP/RegionC/Chapter%204/Chapter%204D-final.pdf. (Last visited January 1, 2009.)
  • 21 Region C Water Planning Group, 2006 Region C Water Plan (Grand Prairie, Texas, December 2005), pp. 4D.17-18, 4D.13-14, www.twdb.state.tx.us/rwpg/2006_RWP/RegionC/Chapter%204/Chapter%204D-final.pdf. (Last visited January 1, 2009.) ; and Interview with Charlie Stringer, assistant general manager, Dallas Water Utilities, Dallas, Texas, November 21, 2008.
  • 22 Region C Water Planning Group, 2006 Region C Water Plan (Grand Prairie, Texas, December 2005), pp. 4D.11-13, www.twdb.state.tx.us/rwpg/2006_RWP/RegionC/Chapter%204/Chapter%204D-final.pdf. (Last visited January 1, 2009.)
  • 23 Data provided by Wendy Barron, team lead, Water Supply & Strategy Analysis, Texas Water Development Board; and Interview with Charlie Stringer, assistant general manager, Dallas Water Utilities; and Interview with Darrel Andrews, water quality manager, Tarrant Regional Water District, Fort Worth, Texas, November 18, 2008.
  • 24 Data provided by Wendy Barron, team lead, Water Supply & Strategy Analysis, Texas Water Development Board; and Interview with Darrel Andrews, water quality manager, Tarrant Regional Water District.
  • 25 Interview with Mike Rickman, assistant general manager, North Texas Municipal Water District.
  • 26 Texas Water Development Board, Water for Texas 2007, Volume II, p. 251.
  • 27 Letter from James M. Parks, chairman, Region C Water Planning Group, October 13, 2008.
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