What is the Region C Water Planning Group?
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. The RCWPG is made up of members representing a variety of interest groups, who are responsible for developing and refining the long-range water plan for the North Central Texas region.
The RCWPG has completed five planning cycles since 1997 (each lasting five years) and is now in the middle of the sixth cycle of Regional Water Planning, which will ultimately produce a 2026 Region C Water Plan that becomes part of the 2027 Texas Water Plan. Ultimately, the objective is to develop and refine a balanced, long-range plan that will meet the region’s water needs for the next 50 years
Where is Region C?
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.
What are the Region C Water Planning Group’s powers?
Region C is a planning group and has no implementation or regulatory authority. For example, Region C does not have the power to enforce water conservation or to develop projects.
Ultimately, water providers and local governments must implement the Regional Water Plan and ensure sound use and conservation of water. Individual water users, including businesses and residents, are also responsible for water use and conservation.
What is the Planning Group doing during this five-year planning cycle?
During this current five-year planning cycle, the Planning Group will gather data and input from around Region C regarding the status of water supplies and planned water supply projects, consult with experts, and work toward generating the new Regional Water Plan from the ground up.
A draft version of the Region C Water Plan, known as the Initially Prepared Plan, will be presented to the public for input in March 2025 before being finalized later in the year. This plan will be delivered to the Texas Water Development Board in October 2025, with the full State Water Plan delivered to the Legislature in 2026. For other key deliverable dates, visit the Planning Milestones page of our website.
Why is Regional Water Planning important to North Central Texas?
Our region is dynamically growing, both in terms of population and water demands. To continue our growth in a responsible manner, North Central Texas must develop and maintain adequate water supplies for the future.
Based on projections developed during the 2021 Regional Water Plan development process, Region C’s population is projected to grow from over 7.5 million today to over 10 million in 2040 and nearly 14.7 million by 2070. Over the next 50 years, dry-year water demands are anticipated to grow from 1.7 million acre-feet per year in 2020, to 2.15 million acre-feet per year in 2040 and 2.9 million acre-feet per year by 2070. If we fail to develop new water supplies, we will fall short of meeting projected 2070 water needs by approximately 1.3 million acre-feet per year.
The impact of failing to meet future demand would be devastating to North Central Texas. The State estimated during the last round of regional water planning that, absent new supplies, by 2070 we could lose over $48.1 billion in yearly regional income and employment in 2070 would be reduced by over 473,000 jobs. These figures do not begin to represent the potential damage to quality of life that could be done absent new water supplies, nor have they been updated yet for the current planning round.
Why are we planning for a surplus water supply?
We must develop a reasonable surplus supply, from a variety of sources, to guard against worse-than-expected droughts, unanticipated population growth, unforeseen problems with the implementation of planned strategies, or emergency supply outages.
Conservation & Reuse
Can Region C plan more conservation and reuse? Can we conserve or reuse enough water that we wouldn’t need new reservoirs or other Water Management Strategies in the future?
While everyone can and should do more to conserve and use water more efficiently, conservation and reuse alone will not be able to satisfy projected demand in the coming decades. New reservoirs are just one part of a multipart strategy outlined in the 2021 Region C Water Plan and the 2022 State Water Plan. Conservation and reuse, while an important part of North Central Texas’ water strategy, cannot be the sole strategy for our future plans.
What is the difference between direct and indirect water reuse, and what are the potential applications and implications of each?
Direct reuse and indirect reuse are very different processes and have significantly different permitting requirements and potential applications.
Direct reuse occurs when treated wastewater is delivered from a wastewater treatment plant to an end user, with no intervening discharge to bodies of water such as a stream or reservoir. 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.
What is the status of major water conservation and reuse strategies in Region C?
Region C has the most ambitious target for water conservation and reuse in Texas. Nearly one-third (32%) of 2070 North Central Texas water supplies under the 2021 Region C Water Plan would come from water conservation and reuse. Various measures, from installing low-flow and efficient plumbing in homes and businesses to large-scale reuse projects by major water providers, are all being utilized to conserve and reuse as much of our region’s water as possible.
Current and Future Water Supply
Where will Region C’s future water supply come from?
Most of Region C’s future water supplies are already here! About 37% of future water supplies would come from currently available sources, and as previously noted, nearly one-third (32%) would come from water conservation and reuse. Nearly one-fifth (18%) of future water supplies would come from developing new reservoirs and run-of-river projects. The remaining needs for water supplies (13%) would be met from connecting existing water supplies, such as Lake Palestine and the Toledo Bend Reservoir in East Texas. The plan includes development of only five major new reservoirs, compared to more than 25 that were previously developed as Region C water supply sources over the past six decades. A more complete breakdown of currently recommended Water Management Strategies for the region can be found within the 2021 Region C Water Plan Executive Summary, found on the Planning Documents page of our website.
What Water Management Strategies have been implemented since adoption of the last plan?
There are many new or ongoing projects that were included in the 2016 and 2021 Region C Water Plans. Of those project, three major water management strategies are particularly noteworthy, due to their impact on the total regional water supply: Bois d’Arc Lake, Lake Ralph Hall and the Integrated Pipeline (IPL).
Bois d’Arc Lake, which is being developed in Fannin County by the North Texas Municipal Water District (NTMWD), will be Texas’ first major new reservoir in 30 years. It will primarily benefit users in the northeastern portion of the region. Bois d’Arc Lake began to impound (hold) water in April 2021 and is expected to be operational soon. For more updates, see https://boisdarclake.org/.
Lake Ralph Hall is a project of the Upper Trinity Regional Water District (UTRWD) which, when completed, will deliver reservoir and reuse water to users in Denton, Collin and Fannin counties. The project broke ground in July 2021 and is expected to be operational by 2026. For further project details and updates, see https://lakeralphhall.com/.
The final major project is the Integrated Pipeline (IPL), which was developed by the Tarrant Regional Water District (TRWD) and Dallas Water Utilities (DWU). This recently completed pipeline will move water from existing reservoirs as far away as Lake Palestine in East Texas to reservoirs in Fort Worth and Dallas, providing needed water supply to North Central Texans and saving billions of dollars for water customers served by both authorities. DWU is now developing a connection from its Lake Palestine water supply to the IPL. For further project details and updates, see https://www.trwd.com/resource/ipl-project/.
What major reservoirs are part of Region C’s 2021 plan?
Major new reservoirs that are recommended water management strategies in the 2021 Region C Water Plan include the Marvin Nichols Reservoir, Bois d’Arc Lake, Lake Columbia, Lake Ralph Hall and Lake Tehuacana.
Is Oklahoma water still part of Region C’s plan?
Yes, importing water from Oklahoma to Region C is part of the 2021 Regional Water Plan. Water from Oklahoma is a recommended strategy for NTMWD and an alternative strategy for UTRWD.
Why aren’t other potentially feasible strategies included as recommended strategies in Region C’s 2021 plan?
- Gulf of Mexico with Desalination: Although the Gulf of Mexico offers a potentially limitless supply of water, the cost of desalinating this water and transporting across Texas to Region C would make this option extremely expensive when compared to others. Also major challenges for this strategy are the technical requirements for a desalination project of this scale.
- Parkhouse North and South: Both of these proposed reservoirs, located in Delta, Lamar and Hopkins Counties, would have lower supplies than either Lake Ralph Hall or the Marvin Nichols Reservoir, both of which are included in the 2021 Regional Plan. Parkhouse North and South are alternative strategies in the Plan for NTMWD and UTRWD.
- Cypress Basin Supplies (Lake O’ the Pines): This existing reservoir is about 120 miles from the Metroplex in Northeast Texas. Some Region C suppliers have explored the possibility of purchasing supplies in excess of local needs from the Cypress Basin for use in the Metroplex. However, based on the most recent information available from Region D (Northeast Texas’ Regional Water Planning Group), there is no available water from the reservoir based on currently contracted amounts. The reservoir is an alternative strategy for NTMWD.
- Toledo Bend Reservoir: This reservoir is an existing impoundment located in the Sabine River Basin on the border of Texas and Louisiana. Several Region C water suppliers have been investigating the possibility of developing substantial supplies from the reservoir, which will require an agreement among the Sabine River Authority and Metroplex suppliers, an interbasin transfer permit from the Sabine River Basin to the Trinity River Basin (and possibly other basins), and development of water transmission facilities. This is a relatively expensive source of water because the reservoir is approximately 200 miles from Region C, but this is currently identified as an alternative joint strategy for NTMWD, TRWD, DWU and UTRWD.
- Large-Scale Aquifer Storage and Recovery (ASR): ASR can provide a cost-effective and reliable alternative to the construction of above-ground storage reservoirs; however, identifying and securing suitable aquifer formations for storage and the geochemical evaluation of the mixed waters can be challenging. ASR in Texas is currently being studied to assess if it is a reliable and cost-effective technology that should be considered as part of a diversified portfolio of water supply options.
Why do some entities in Region C appear to have such high water consumption figures?
Consumption figures can vary from entity to entity because of a variety of factors such as population size, service area, and type of water use (residential, commercial, or manufacturing, for example). Comparing entities’ water usage figures is not always an apples-to-apples comparison.
Are we currently in a drought? How can I check? How does this affect Regional Water Planning?
The Texas Drought Monitor and the current status of drought for the state can be found here. Drought and the risk of it are always on the mind of regional water planners. We must make decisions now about water supplies, conservation and reuse to adequately guard against future droughts that may occur.
Are RWPG meetings open to the public? What public notice requirements apply to RWPG meetings?
All meetings of RWPGs and their committees or subcommittees are open to the public and subject to the Open Meetings Act. The minimum public notice for planning group meetings is 7 days in accordance with the latest TWDB regional water planning rules. Those rules require additional notice and public comment periods for some RWPG activities. A matrix summary of RWPG public notice and RWPG meeting requirements may be found here.
How are members determined for each Regional Water Planning Group?
In accordance with TWDB rules (31 Texas Administrative Code (TAC) §357.11(d)), each RWPG must maintain at least one voting member from each of the following interest categories: the public, counties, municipalities, industry, agriculture, environment, small business, electric-generating utilities, river authorities, water districts, water utilities, and groundwater management areas. Each RWPG, at its discretion, may add additional voting or non-voting members for any new interest category, or add additional members to the required interest categories. RWPGs may also remove representatives, as long as the minimum requirements for the categories listed above are maintained. It is the discretion of the planning group to decide who is best to represent the interest category; however, the planning group must follow their bylaws regarding member solicitations and recommendations.
What are the categories of water use planned for in the regional water planning process?
There are six water use categories which are planned for in accordance with TWDB rules (31 TAC §357.31). These categories are municipal, manufacturing, irrigation, steam electric power generation, mining, and livestock. For planning purposes, rural water use, including domestic use, is aggregated and categorized under a sub-set of municipal water user groups referred to as “county-other”.
What is the difference between Water Demand and Water Need in a regional water plan?
Water Demand is the volume of water that a water user group would require during drought of record conditions for its anticipated domestic, public, and/or economic activities. Water Need is a potential water supply shortage based on the difference between projected water demands and existing water supplies. In the planning process, a planning group will compare a water user group’s demands to the water user group’s existing water supplies to determine if they may face a potential shortage (need) under drought conditions.
What is the difference between Existing Water Supply and Availability?
Availability is the total amount of raw water that could be produced from a water source during drought of record conditions. Existing water supply is a subset of the water availability representing the amount of that water that is physically and legally available for use by a water user group. For example, availability is the total amount of water estimated within an aquifer, but the existing water supply is the amount of water that a water user’s permit and pump capacity already allows them to pump in the event of a drought.
Why is the 1950’s statewide drought of record utilized for planning when there may have been more severe droughts at the regional level?
While the drought of the 1950s is still considered the statewide benchmark drought for state water planning, the TWDB acknowledges that regional droughts of record may vary by river basin. The drought of record for surface water sources is determined using water availability models developed by the TCEQ and is based on historical flow data. Because RWPGs are required by planning rules (31 TAC §357.32(c)) to use the most recent TCEQ water availability models, any new regional or sub-basin droughts of record identified by model updates will be accounted for when evaluating existing supplies or water management strategies. Planning groups may also address uncertainty and risks, for example, to address a drought worse than the drought of record, when developing their plans.
Are climate models utilized in the development of regional water plans?
Climate models are not used in the regional water planning process. Texas’ water plans are based on benchmark drought of record conditions using historical hydrological data. While we recognize that the full sequence of hydrologic events in our history will never be repeated exactly, the droughts that have occurred have been of such severity that it is reasonable to use them for the purpose of planning. There are currently no forecasting tools capable of providing reliable estimates of changes to future water resources in Texas at the resolution needed for water planning. In order to provide the best available, actionable science, grounded in historical data and patterns, the TWDB continues to collect data and consider potential ways to improve estimates of water supply reliability in the face of drought. Planning groups may also address uncertainty and risks, for example, to address a drought worse than the drought of record, when developing their plans.