By Amelia Koplos
October 24, 2014
What does a squirrel do when their nut stash has been taken over by a larger predator? Easy: find more grub closer to home. That’s the strategy that North Texas Municipal Water District (NTMWD) seems to be playing these days. And if they can get through a few contested battles, the Bois D’Arc Creek Reservoir will be a stash great enough to make the Marvin Nichols Reservoir look like mere peanuts.
On Wednesday, the TCEQ approved hearing requests from multiple landowners who are directly in the way of the Bois D’Arc Creek Reservoir’s footprint. NTMWD falls within with the Region C water planning area, which happens to hold a hotbed of controversy within the state’s water plan. As part of a region which contributes the largest share of the state’s overall water consumption, NTMWD has jurisdiction over most counties in the Dallas metroplex. The Bois D’Arc Creek Reservoir proposal comes at a time during the metro area’s exponential growth and water consumption. While neighboring region D has argued against C’s Marvin Nichols Reservoir for its environmental and economic damage to the affected area, many of Region D’s workforce commutes to the metroplex daily. Along with this workforce undoubtedly comes water usage throughout the day. It almost seems unfair that the region gets so much backlash from reservoir proposals. Almost. Despite the seemingly obvious reasons for high municipal water demand, it’s estimated that 3 of every 4 gallons in the NTMWD residing counties are consumed through landscape and lawn maintenance. This troubling piece of news comes at a time when reservoirs haven’t proved to be the surest source of long-term water for the region. Three of NTMWD’s four other reservoirs are already dangerously low: Lavon Lake, at 46%, Tawakoni at 59% and Jim Chapman at the bottom with only 37.9% of its total.
With the reality of the water district’s fast disappearing supply, it seems that the last investment to make would be an additional reservoir. After all, such projects take many years to construct and rape, err, reap the benefits of usable water. Though the TCEQ approved landowners’ requests for deliberation by the Texas Office of Administrative Hearings, such a resolution could very well take years—time that a region doesn’t have, considering aforementioned water sources are increasingly unstable. Rather than use the state’s time and energy to uphold a reservoir that has already been approved, the TCEQ should make better use of its authority by requiring the region to invest the 300+ billion dollar funds to region-wide water conservation and efficiency programs. If the squirrel only knew how few nuts were left on the land.
Amelia Koplos is a second-year masters candidate at UT's LBJ School of Public Affairs.