First New Major Reservoir in Decades Under Development in Fannin County
More Water for North Texas: Future Bois d’Arc Lake Will Meet Water Supply Demands and Spur Economic Growth
The North Texas Municipal Water District (NTMWD) manages the design, operation, and maintenance of water, wastewater and solid waste disposal systems across a massive service territory spanning 2,200 square miles. Overseeing the water supply needs of nearly 80 communities can be daunting, especially considering this 10-county area is expected to double in size by 2050.
Currently, NTMWD is working to build the first new major reservoir in Texas in nearly 30 years. The Bois d’Arc Lake project in Fannin County, which broke ground in May 2018, will supply 70 million gallons daily (MGD) initially to customers in North Texas – one of the nation’s fastest-growing regions.
“The Bois d’Arc Lake project will provide a critical new source of water for 1.7 million residents and businesses,” says Jeff McKito, Public Relations Specialist for NTMWD. “The project is an essential part of the comprehensive, long-range strategy NTMWD has developed to meet the needs of our growing region for decades to come.”
Long-Awaited Project Becomes Reality
Naturally, extensive planning and coordination are required for an infrastructure development of this magnitude. NTMWD and its 13 member cities have been working together for over a decade to plan and permit the lake, which will have a 16,641-acre surface area and 367,609 acre-feet of storage capacity. After an intense, lengthy process seeking ways to avoid or minimize the project’s environmental impacts, the reservoir’s final permit was approved in February 2018.
“It’s taken a tremendous team effort with support from so many over the years,” says Tom Kula, Executive Director and General Manager of NTMWD. “The District truly appreciates the support of all who have been involved in making this long-awaited project a reality.”
“Reservoirs are an absolute necessity in the state of Texas where most are manmade,” adds Terry Sam Anderson, NTMWD’s longest-serving Board Member. “This historic milestone is a result of significant planning, investment and support.”
The lake’s location is northeast of Bonham and northwest of Honey Grove. In addition to creating a 90-foot-high dam and intake structure, related project components include constructing a raw water pump station, installing a 35-mile raw water pipeline, improving various roads in Fannin County and building a mile-long bridge across the future lake. Water from the lake will flow to a separately planned new water treatment plant with the initial capacity to treat up to 70 MGD.
The total estimated cost for the lake and associated infrastructure is $1.6 billion. “Project costs will be shared by the communities that receive water from NTMWD through annual water rate increases. No tax revenues will be used to construct the reservoir,” McKito says. To date, the Texas Water Development Board has approved $1.47 billion in low-interest financing through the State Water Implementation Fund for Texas (SWIFT) program, which is anticipated to save NTMWD and its cities over $230 million in interest.
Ensuring Efficiency Through CMAR Project Delivery
This massive, multi-year undertaking is divided into five major components, four of them overseen by a Construction Manager At-Risk (CMAR). The CMARs selected by NTMWD are Archer Western, Garney Construction, and Austin Bridge & Road. Additionally, Resources Environmental Solutions (RES) is handling all environmental remediation activities.
According to NTMWD officials, current estimates indicate that up to 1,000 workers could be utilized on this project. Due to the project team’s commitment to employing local talent when possible, at least 50 contractors in Fannin County and the surrounding area have already been hired to support various components totaling almost $50 million.
Archer Western, part of The Walsh Group, is overseeing reservoir clearing and dam construction and is building a terminal storage reservoir at the water treatment plant. The reservoir, which crews began building in May 2018, is scheduled to begin impounding water in fall 2020.
Work is underway on the earthen embankments located east and west of Bois d’Arc Creek for the reservoir’s 2-mile-long dam. Crews are currently adding approximately 15,000 to 17,000 cubic yards of earth to the dam structure each day. The intake tower foundation slabs are now complete, and work is underway on the tower’s walls. At the time of reporting, workers were preparing to pour concrete over the seal slabs for the stilling basin and a portion of the spillway chute, which will release water from the lake back into Bois d’Arc Creek. Next, they will install concrete-encased conduit pipes that will be used to move water through the intake tower.
Garney Construction is spearheading the development of the new Leonard Water Treatment Plant and related structures, which will be situated on approximately 1,000 acres just west of the city of Leonard. Construction started last November and will require up to 500 workers to complete by fall 2021. The site will contain a 210-million-gallon terminal storage reservoir and a high-service pump station capable of pumping 90 million gallons daily (MGD). Additional work includes creating access roads to the site, connecting power and water, and building maintenance facilities.
Future site additions include expanding the treatment capability from 70 MGD to 280 MGD, constructing a second 210-million-gallon terminal storage reservoir, and adding a second-high service pump station for a total pumping capacity of 330 MGD. The plant will use a five-step water treatment process featuring cutting-edge technologies such as ozone disinfection and biologically-active filtration.
Garney Construction is also building a raw water pump station, a dam maintenance facility, and raw and treated water pipelines. Workers are currently installing rock anchors for the foundation of the raw water pump station; once the structure is fully complete, it will house nine pumps in an area as long as a football field.
Since April 1, six-person crews have been digging around the clock in 12-hour shifts to finish two sections of tunnel for the 90-inch raw water pipe, which workers began laying last month. The 35-mile pipeline will require 21 tunnels and over half a mile of crossings under or over roads, railroads, and streams. Beginning this fall, workers will begin the installation of 25 miles of pipeline that will be used transport treated water to NTMWD’s existing regional water system. All pipeline activities are slated to be completed by fall 2021.
Crews working under the direction of Austin Bridge & Road are either improving or constructing approximately 11 miles worth of county and state roads and bridges along FM 897. This portion of the project should be completed by next summer. Additionally, at the new lake site, the construction team will be building three public boat ramps and a Lake Operations Center to be used for administrative operations and educational events.
According to NTMWD officials, the biggest environmental impacts of this project are related to the lake and its construction, which will cover several thousand acres of natural habitat and impact some local streams. To address and help counteract this loss, NTMWD is improving more than 17,000 acres at two sites – the Riverby Ranch in northeast Fannin County, and the Upper Bois d’Arc Creek.
To date, over 1.6 million trees have been planted and stream restoration efforts have started. The current goal is to plant more than 5 million trees and either restore or enhance at least 8,500 acres of wetland, 3,200 acres of native grassland, 2,600 acres of forests and 70 miles of streams. RES plans to maintain, measure and monitor the success of this mitigation for up to 20 years after it is complete.
A Major Economic Boost
Several years ago, NTMWD commissioned an independent analysis of the Bois d’Arc Lake project’s economic, fiscal and developmental impacts. The report, last updated in January 2015, indicates that construction spending alone could add as much as $563 million to local economic activity. Once the lake is impounded, recreational opportunities such as fishing and boating are expected to boost the local economy by $166 million each year.
The new lake will attract a host of new businesses and residents to Fannin County, further stimulating economic activity and job creation. “A project such as this benefits not just our local tax base by helping to bring in more people who will spend their money in Fannin County, but it also encourages businesses to start up to help serve the increased traffic,” says Dale McQueen, Executive Director, Bonham Area Chamber of Commerce. The short- and long-term economic gains will likely spill over to those in neighboring counties as well.
“Bois d’Arc Lake is already a tremendous economic driver for Fannin County,” McQueen says. “We are thankful that NTMWD has had the foresight to continue this project over the past 15 years … and we look forward to working with them over the next few decades to help make this a wonderful success for both them and Fannin County.”