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Frequently Asked Questions
The Region C Water Planning Group (RCWPG) is one of 16 regional water planning groups established by the Texas Water Development Board to help develop and revise a comprehensive water plan for Texas through 2060. The RCWPG is made up of 19 members representing 11 different interest groups, who are responsible for developing and refining the long-range water plan for the North Central Texas region. The RCWPG has completed two five-year planning cycles since 1997 and is now in the middle of the third round of Regional Water Planning. Ultimately, our objective is to develop and refine a balanced, long-range plan that will meet the region’s water needs over the next 50 years to avoid a water crisis.
Region C is made up of all or part of 16 counties in North Central Texas: Collin, Cooke, Dallas, Denton, Ellis, Fannin, Freestone, Grayson, Henderson (Trinity River Basin portion), Jack, Kaufman, Navarro, Parker, Rockwall, Tarrant and Wise.
The RCWPG is a planning groupthat ultimately has no implementation or regulatory authority. For example, the RCWPG does not have the power to enforce water conservation or to develop projects. Ultimately, water providers and local governmental entities must implement the Regional Water Plan and ensure sound use of water. Individual water users, including businesses and residents, are also responsible for water use and conservation.
During the first two years of the current five-year planning cycle (through end of 2008), we are conducting special studies to examine particular water strategies and identify changing conditions. We are building on, and improving, the existing plan. We are particularly focused during this planning cycle on coordination within the region, as is required to address shared challenges. In the later portion of this five-year planning cycle, the RCWPG will again revise the Regional Water Plan to address changed conditions and to reflect regional input on potentially feasible water management strategies.
Two rounds of planning have been completed, and we are now in our third five-year cycle. Today, any projects seeking permits or state funding must be consistent with the Regional Water Plan. Further, we have contributed towards implementation of a variety of water management strategies, totaling nearly 2 million acre-feet per year of new supply added since 1997, including major reuse projects, connection to existing water supplies, development of new supply sources and large-scale conservation initiatives. The Planning Group has also helped facilitate a significant amount of regional cooperation and a large amount of public participation in the planning process.
The current plan was adopted by the Planning Group in 2006 and includes a variety of strategies – increased conservation and reuse; connection of existing supplies; development of new surface water supplies. All of these strategies are critical because no one strategy alone can meet our region’s needs over the next 50 years.
Over the next 50 years, Region C’s population is projected to more than double (from 5.2 million in 2000 census, to projected 13.1 million in 2060), so developing new supplies is critical. Further, population projections have continued to adjust upwards over time, with each new census. If we fail to develop new supplies, we will fall short of meeting projected 2060 water needs (3.3 million acre feet) by 1.9 million acre-feet per year.
The impact of failing to meet future demands would be devastating to North Central Texas, resulting in a 7% reduction in population (over 1 million people), a 17% reduction in employment (700,000 jobs), a 21% reduction in regional income ($58.8 billion) and a
We must also develop a reasonable surplus supply, from a variety of sources, to guard against worse-than-expected droughts, unanticipated population growth and unforeseen problems with the implementation of planned strategies.
Conservation and reuse are important elements of the Region C Water Plan, providing 28% of our regional water supply by 2060. These strategies alone won’t be enough to meet our region’s future needs. Region C is adopting more conservation and reuse than any other region in the state. The region is also a national leader in implementing these strategies.
Implementing the conservation and reuse strategies in the plan will reduce our average per capita municipal water demand by nearly 30% over the next 20 years. Region C’s planned conservation and reuse strategies will also achieve the goal set by the Texas Water Conservation Implementation Task Force by 2020.
The North Texas Municipal Water District’s East Fork Water Supply Project (generating 102,000 acre-feet/year) and the Tarrant Regional Water District’s wetlands project (generating 188,000 acre-feet/year) are prominent examples of Region C reuse projects. Reuse projects have some limits, because we must preserve the normal flow of the Trinity River.
The Texas Water Code defines conservation as “the development of water resources; and those practices, techniques, and technologies that will reduce the consumption of water, reduce the loss or waste of water, improve the efficiency in the use of water, or increase the recycling and reuse of water so that a water supply is made available for future or alternative uses.” By this definition, reuse is a subcategory of conservation, so conservation and reuse are considered together in calculating the water demand reduction achieved by implementation of the Region C Water Plan’s recommended conservation and reuse strategies.
Drought or emergency management measures, on the other hand, are fundamentally different from conservation or reuse strategies, as water conservation and reuse strategies are designed to provide permanent or long-term water savings – while drought or emergency management measures are, by their nature, temporary.
As noted above, implementing the conservation and reuse strategies in the Region C Water Plan will reduce our average per capita municipal water demand by nearly 30% over the next 20 years.
Direct reuse and indirect reuse have significantly different permitting requirements and potential applications.
Direct reuse occurs when treated wastewater is delivered from a wastewater treatment plan to an end user, with no intervening discharge to waters of the state. Direct reuse requires a notification to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), which is routinely accepted so long as requirements to protect public health are met. Direct reuse is most commonly used to supply water for landscape irrigation (especially golf courses) and industrial uses (especially cooling for steam electric power plants).
Indirect reuse occurs when treated wastewater is discharged to a stream or reservoir and is diverted downstream or out of a reservoir for reuse. The discharged water mixes with ambient water in the stream or reservoir as it travels to the point of diversion. Many of the water supplies within Region C have historically included return flows from treated wastewater as well as natural runoff. Indirect reuse can provide water supplies for municipal use, as well as irrigation and industrial supplies. New indirect reuse projects may require a water right permit from the TCEQ and may also require a wastewater discharge permit from the TCEQ if the discharge location is changed as part of the reuse project.
Many Region C reservoirs have water right permits allocated in excess of their firm yield, so they are currently using return flows in their watersheds to supplement the water supply. These return flows may not be a long-term reliable supply if they are diverted for future direct reuse projects.
By 2060, our region will get its water from the following sources in the following amounts:
The Region C Water Plan includes much more than just this reservoir. New reservoirs represent only 18% of our total regional water supply anticipated for 2060. The Marvin Nichols Reservoir is a cost-effective source of a large amount of water (489,000 acre-feet/year) for Region C, at a site relatively close to the Metroplex and ideal for damming.
Conservation and reuse alone won’t replace the need for some large-scale sources of supply such as the Marvin Nichols Reservoir. Other available supplies are relatively more expensive, or not as ample a solution as this reservoir. Additionally, the Marvin Nichols Reservoir is still a long ways from construction. It will still have to go through the appropriate permitting process before anything happens, but it needs to be part of our long-range plan.
Lake Fastrill is a critical part of DWU’s long-term strategy for supplies. We are following the pending litigation involving the City of Dallas, Texas Water Development Board and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service very closely
The permit for this reservoir is currently being pursued by the Upper Trinity Regional Water District. Lake Ralph Hall would provide 50,740 acre-feet/year to the rapidly expanding population served by the UTRWD. It is the lowest-cost and most feasible water supply option for the families and cities who rely on the District. The UTRWD’s current water supply is adequate for the next 25 years. Since reservoirs take a long time to permit and build, approval is needed now.
A permit for this reservoir is currently being pursued by the North Texas Municipal Water District. It would cost-effectively provide 123,000 acre-feet/year to the rapidly expanding population served by the NTMWD. NTMWD’s customers need this water supply by 2020, so development of the reservoir must begin now. Conservation, reuse and connection to existing supplies will not provide enough water for this rapidly growing area. In fact, the NTMWD must essentially deliver the equivalent of a new Lower Bois d’Arc Creek Reservoir every decade for the next five decades to its customers, in order to meet the projected water demands of its service area.
A federal judge ruled in late 2007 that the Tarrant Regional Water District’s lawsuit challenging an Oklahoma moratorium on out-of-state water sales should be heard in federal court. The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is expected to weigh in soon on this issue. Most recently, the Oklahoma Legislature passed a resolution asking Congress to intercede in this matter.
The TRWD is pursuing surplus, Gulf-bound water that would be used to meet future water supply needs in North Central Texas. The TRWD has filed permit applications with Oklahoma to secure water from the Beaver, Cache and Kiamichi Rivers just before it flows into the Red River, where it becomes less suitable for municipal water supply due to salinity and requires expensive treatment. The District hopes to obtain approximately seven percent of the water destined for the Gulf, and would not seek any water from Oklahoma reservoirs.
The North Texas Municipal Water District and Upper Trinity Regional Water District also have applications pending with the State of Oklahoma to purchase water from Oklahoma sources.
Irving is also pursuing Oklahoma water. Irving has signed a contract to purchase water from the City of Hugo. Hugo has also filed a lawsuit challenging Oklahoma’s moratorium on out-of-state water sales.
Oklahoma water is included as a recommended strategy in the 2006 Region C Water Plan for the TRWD, North Texas Municipal Water District (NTMWD) and the Upper Trinity Regional Water District (UTRWD). At the time of the Plan’s completion, Oklahoma water was anticipated to supply 115,000 acre-feet of water per year to the North Texas region – although the TRWD, NTMWD and UTRWD are currently seeking additional amounts of Oklahoma water.
The 2006 Plan also includes Oklahoma water as an alternative strategy for Dallas Water Utilities and the City of Irving.
If a successful, collaborative resolution of this dispute can be reached, North Central Texas residents and Oklahoma residents would both be beneficiaries. Due to explosive population growth and unforeseen issues that may arise with implementation of other water management strategies, Region C needs to plan on obtaining future water supplies from a variety of sources.
Oklahoma water offers a potentially significant supply of water to meet these critical needs. This water also offers a potential benefit to Oklahoma residents through the revenues that future sales would generate.
There may be a variety of reasons why a particular strategy is not included in the Region C Water Plan, ranging from cost to implementation difficulties. The RCWPG has evaluated, and continues to reassess, all potentially feasible water management strategies as part of its ongoing revision and refinement of the Regional Water Plan. Feasibility and costs change over time, as do the needs of entities within Region C. Our plan must constantly evolve and be updated every five years.
Comparisons of GPCD (gallons per capita per day) usage figures with other cities and other regions across the state are extremely difficult, and are not true apple-to-apple comparisons. Region C has a relatively higher percentage of industry and other high-volume uses as compared to other regions. These factors, along with differences in how cities and regions report their info, skew our GPCD figures and make side-by-side comparisons difficult.
The Texas Water Conservation Advisory Council is currently working on this GPCD issue, seeking to achieve a consensus on a better measure of conservation success and a more appropriate set of metrics for side-by-side comparisons of cities’ and regions’ actual water usage.
What’s important to note is that, under our plan, we will meet the state Water Conservation Implementation Task Force’s goal by 2020. We will get there through a combination of implementing conservation best management practices across the region and developing additional reuse projects.
We were fortunate to emerge from the most recent drought relatively unscathed, thanks to significant rainfall in 2007 and the implementation of drought contingency plans in local areas. Atlanta’s recent experience underscores the wisdom of a statewide, regional water planning process that develops a long-term plan for an ample water supply. If we are to avoid a similar experience, we must continue moving forward with the implementation of our Regional Water Plan.
If you have a public or private group with an interest in regional water planning issues, the RCWPG would be happy to provide a speaker for your next event or meeting.
It’s all part of the RCWPG’s public participation campaign, which is designed to educate the public and engage a wide variety of constituencies in the critical, long-range water planning effort.
Region C representatives can speak to your group and deliver a Powerpoint presentation noting the future supply-demand gap in Region C, the potentially feasible water management strategies under consideration to address that gap and the currently recommended strategies in the 2006 Region C Water Plan. Additionally, the speaker will inform your group about the current activities of the Planning Group, the opportunities for public input and the next steps in the plan revision process.
To schedule a presentation by a Region C member, please contact Colby Walton at 972-580-0662 x23 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can also get more information about Region C Water Planning by signing up for the RCWPG’s regular newsletter, simply by contacting Colby Walton at the contact info listed above, or by attending the RCWPG’s public meetings. See the homepage of this website for more information about upcoming meetings and public participation opportunities.
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