Monday, August 15, 2022

Final required permit issued for new reservoir

Map of Lake Ralph Hall

A federal permit has been issued to clear the way for a new North Texas reservoir that will provide water to many area residents, including Denton County.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has issued a Section 404 Clean Water Act Permit to the Upper Trinity Regional Water District for Lake Ralph Hall, one of the first major reservoirs to be built in Texas in 30 years, according to a UTRWD news release. This is the final federal permit required to construct the lake.

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality granted UTRWD a water rights permit for the proposed reservoir in December 2013. Named after longtime U.S. Congressman Ralph Hall, the reservoir will be located in southeast Fannin County — northeast of McKinney) on the North Sulphur River and will provide essential water to North Texans, according to the water district.

“After nearly 15 years of working with USACE, we are excited to receive this permit as it moves us one step closer to building this critically important new reservoir to meet the water needs of our growing communities,” said Larry N. Patterson, UTRWD’s executive director. “After many technical studies and extensive field investigations by both federal and state agencies, the Environmental Impact Statement was completed leading to USACE’s Record of Decision for Lake Ralph Hall. This is the culmination of a lot of hard work by UTRWD staff, its consultants, USACE, collaborating agencies and our local partners in Ladonia and Fannin County.”

Design of the Leon Horse Dam is almost done, and construction is expected to begin later this year, with a goal of having the new lake in operation by 2025, Patterson said.

Signing Ceremony Photograph (Left to Right): Ronna Hartt, Manager of Water Resources Program; Larry N. Patterson, Executive Director; Ed Motley, Lake Ralph Hall Program Manager

UTRWD’s water demand within its growing service area is anticipated to triple over the next 50 years, according to the district, and additional water supplies are needed to meet this anticipated future demand. Once complete and fully operational, Lake Ralph Hall will provide residents and business of UTRWD’s service area and southeast Fannin County an additional 54 million gallons per day of raw water.

Below are some facts about Lake Ralph Hall, according to UTRWD:

  • USACE’s Environmental Impact Statement confirmed that the North Sulphur River near the City of Ladonia is a good reservoir site – – limited wetlands, no oil or gas wells or electric transmission lines.
  • Will inundate about 7,600 acres (similar in size to Grapevine Lake) but will yield about 30% more water because of greater rainfall in the Sulphur River Basin.
  • Helps address severe erosion on the North Sulphur River and will provide a significant aquatic and terrestrial habitat in Fannin County, one that doesn’t exist today.
  • Pipeline that now delivers UTRWD’s water from Chapman Lake was built with enough capacity to carry the water from Lake Ralph Hall to UTRWD’s service area.
  • Provides economic benefits to Fannin, Denton, Dallas and Collin Counties.
  • The Texas Water Development Board’s State Water Implementation Fund for Texas (SWIFT) program will be used to fund the project, estimated cost of $490 million.
Mark Smith
Mark Smith is the Digital Editor of The Cross Timbers Gazette.

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