Bois d'Arc Lake could pump water in 2022, water district says

Michael Hutchins
Herald Democrat
Work on the new Bois d'Arc Lake reservoir in Fannin County reached a milestone Wednesday as crews began to fill the lake. Officials with the North Texas municipal Water District believe the lake could start providing drinking water by 2022.

After nearly 15 years of planning and development, a new water reservoir in Fannin County officially began to fill this week. Officials with the North Texas Municipal Water District said the Bois d'Arc Lake reservoir, a $1.6 billion project representing the first major Texas reservoir to be built in nearly three decades, comes as access to water has become a major focus amid unprecedented growth across the state. 

On Wednesday, crews with the district closed off the lowest most gates at the lake intake facility. As the water rises, crews will close off more gates to all the lake to continue to fill. Current estimates call for the lake to begin producing drinking water some time in 2022.

“We are excited to reach this major milestone that brings us one step closer to additional water supplies for the growing population NTMWD serves,” NTMWD Interim Executive Director Rodney Rhoades said. “Bois d’Arc Lake will be a reliable water source for generations and will also provide economic and recreational benefits to Fannin County.”

Once completed, the lake will span nearly 16,600 acres of land and hold more than 120 billion gallons of water. This will make the lake similar in size and scope to Jim Chapman Lake, officials said.

The lake will have comparable water production to Lake Lavon.

The untreated water from the lake will be pumped to a new $240 million treatment plant in Leonard before traveling southwest to McKinney, where it will be connected into the  primary pipeline.

A map shows the expected footprint of the new Bois d'Arc Lake reservoir along with the pipe lines that will pump water to customers in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex.

Planning and development on the project began around 2006 as officials began conducting design, development, planning and study related to the proposed reservoir. The project was approved for construction about three years ago. In that time, crews have completed roadwork, pipelines and the majority of the 90-foot-tall, two-mile-long dam that will make the lake possible.

The primary purpose of the lake will be to provide drinking water for areas in the northern areas of the district's service area. The lake could provide more than 100 million gallons of untreated drinking water to nearly 2 million customers in the northern-most areas of the metroplex.

While Wednesday marked a major milestone for the project, district officials said work still needs to be done during the filling phase. Crews are still working on finishing the dam, and some burial sites are still being relocated out of the lake footprint.

"We still have a lot of work being done on our boat ramps," Rhoades said. "Our lake office is not done yet, so we still have work there."

While Rhoades anticipates a 2022 opening for the lake, he admitted that it will be Mother Nature who ultimately decides that. If drought conditions arise over the next year, it could take somewhere between 18 to 24 months for the lake to fill.

Work on the new Bois d'Arc Lake reservoir in Fannin County reached a milestone Wednesday as crews began to fill the lake. Officials with the North Texas municipal Water District believe the lake could start providing drinking water by 2022.

"That is all going to depend on the weather. If we get a lot of rain, obviously it will fill a lot quicker," he said. "Otherwise, we are predicting it could take a year to 18 months to become completely full."

The lake is poised to be a boon not only for the water district, but also Fannin County itself. Through the construction phase alone, Rhoades said the county could see up to $500 million in economic activity, and an additional $166 million of activity in each following year.

The lake could also support the creation of up to 2,400 jobs and could lead to the construction of more than 3,200 new homes over the next 30 years, Rhoades added.

Meanwhile, the district gets access to a new water source that is expected to meet the district's need for more than a decade. The district anticipates that the number of people in its service area could double to 4 million in the coming years.

"In our world of providing treated water, we need to plan out 40, 50 years ahead or more," Rhoades said. "One of the things we look at is not only our needs for today, but 40 to 50 years out."