Hearing underway on Lake Ralph Hall project

A hearing began this week in Austin on a pending permit application for Lake Ralph Hall in Fannin County, a new water supply that would be Texas’ first in more than 20 years.

The first of several witnesses were scheduled to testify before administrative law judges for the State Office of Administrative Hearings.  The law judges will hear all sides and make a recommendation to the TCEQ based on evidence submitted during the hearing. 

Lake Ralph Hall is necessary to avoid a future water supply crisis, according to the Upper Trinity Regional Water District (UTRWD).  Upper Trinity serves more than 25 communities in the Denton County area. 

Tom Taylor, UTRWD’s Executive Director, is expected to testify that Lake Ralph Hall is critical to meeting the region’s water needs as documented in the Texas Water Plan.  During the hearing, Upper Trinity will also present the testimony of several other expert witnesses in support of its application.

“The proposed Lake Ralph Hall is the right size, can be completed in time to protect against a potential water supply crisis and is the lowest-cost source of new water supply available for Upper Trinity customers,” Taylor said.

“The lake has strong local support in Denton County where most of the customers live who will use the water – and in Fannin County where the lake will be built.”

The exception is Flower Mound, the largest Upper Trinity customer with a subscription that is more than 40 percent of the Upper Trinity’s total capacity.

“Flower Mound does not want to oppose Lake Ralph Hall, but we do seek financial accountability from the Upper Trinity Regional Water District,” said Flower Mound Mayor Tom Hayden.  “We would like to see Lake Ralph Hall built when it is needed, not just a want.”

An independent analysis of the Lake Ralph Hall project has estimated the cost could be as much as $450 million, according to Hayden.

“Since the Town of Flower Mound is the largest subscriber, many of the smaller municipalities and districts have allowed Flower Mound to carry the water and be the most vocal challenger to Lake Ralph Hall,” said Hayden.  “However, make no mistake; Lake Ralph Hall has the potential to cripple every member of the Upper Trinity Regional Water District if unchecked.”

The hearing is anticipated to take about two weeks. A final decision on the Lake Ralph Hall permit will be made by TCEQ sometime this summer or fall after receipt of the recommendation by the State Office of Administrative Hearings.

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