The new Lake Ralph Hall is being built to serve a growing area in and around Denton County
Larry N. Patterson, executive director of the Upper Trinity Regional River Basin District, adds a piece to the puzzle that represents all of the entities involved in the development of Ralph Hall Lake in Fannin County at a groundbreaking event in June. (Erick Pirayesh / Community Impact Journal)
Construction on a project that dates back to a series of town halls in the early 1990s is finally underway with nearly half a billion dollar Ralph Hall Lake slated to supply water to Lewisville, Flower Mound and Highland Village as well as other North Texas. communities.
Larry N. Patterson, executive director of the Upper Trinity Regional River Basin District, said the lake under construction in Fannin County is intended to meet the long-term needs of the rapidly growing region.
“We have identified that we think we would have a shortfall if we did not get a new water supply …  and ”Patterson said.” So this thing comes right on time. “
Denton County officials in the 1980s identified that groundwater levels in the area were dropping and would not be able to support future population growth, he said. Once Upper Trinity was formed in 1989, it was decided that more reservoirs would be needed to capture additional rainwater during heavy storms, Patterson said.
Upper Trinity is developing regional plans for water services while providing water and wastewater services. Most of Denton County as well as parts of Dallas County and Collin County lie within its district.
The Texas legislature requires the state’s water utility regions to update a 50-year water body every five years. According to the 2022 State Water Plan Project, the 16 counties that make up the population of North Texas, including Upper Trinity, are expected to more than double over the next 50 years to nearly 15 million.
The lake is funded by a series of low-interest loans made to Upper Trinity by the State Water Implementation Fund of the Texas Water Development Board. The multibillion-dollar fund was created by the council to “help communities develop and optimize water supplies at cost-effective rates,” the council’s website said.
Upper Trinity will then repay the loans using the rates charged to its members. Some Denton County officials have expressed concern that Upper Trinity member costs could rise sharply in the future due to these increased loan payments. Patterson said that by spreading loan payments over a number of years and over a growing number of customers, Upper Trinity will be able to keep service costs affordable.
âThis allows us to have a more modest impact on pricing and allows us to develop more customers,â he said.
In the works
Ralph Hall Lake will be located on the North Sulfur River in the southeast of Fannin County, north of the town of Ladonia. Due to State of Texas requirements, Upper Trinity must first meet the water needs of the Sulfur River region before sending water to Upper Trinity members in Denton Counties, Dallas. and Collin.
The lake is named after the late US Congressman Ralph M. Hall, a staunch supporter of the new reservoir. Hall attended these Ladonia town hall meetings decades ago. He urged the community to âthink biggerâ as officials reflect on how to build a lake in their area. Officials credit Hall with suggesting a partnership between the town and Upper Trinity.
In addition to providing water to the region, the lake is expected to serve as a destination for recreation and tourism. A bridge over a mile long will be built over the lake.
Other projects include a raw water pumping station, a 32 mile raw water pipeline, a balancing tank, an operating facility and road upgrades in the area.
The project is one of the largest lakes built in Texas in decades.
The groundbreaking ceremony on June 16 took place at the future Leon Hurse dam site, named after the former mayor of Ladonia, another long-time supporter of the project. The dam will be over 2 miles long and 110 feet high.
The lake, capable of storing 59 billion gallons of water, is expected to be completed by 2025 and start providing water by 2026.
Richard Lubke, Highland Village representative on Upper Trinity’s board of directors, said the town had played an early and active role in supporting the construction of the lake.
“The [city] said, “This is something that has to happen for southern Denton County,” he said. âWhile maybe other communities were saying, ‘No, it’s not something that should [happen]. ‘â
While Lewisville is a member of the Water District, he contracts with the City of Dallas to use raw water from Lake Lewisville. Lewisville also operates its own treatment plant to serve residents.
Lewisville Mayor TJ Gilmore said the creation of Lake Ralph Hall and Lewisville’s membership in Upper Trinity gives the town more options to acquire water in the future.
“It gave us the opportunity to say … ‘Dallas, we have to negotiate,'” he said. “It will give us another means, another resource in the future.”
Upper Trinity currently has contracts to use water from Lake Lewisville, Lake Ray Roberts and Lake Jim Chapman.
âWe need all of these sources as well as Ralph Hall Lake to meet future demand,â Patterson said. âInitially, Ralph Hall will provide excess water for our immediate needs. “
Patterson said many cities and organizations worked in unison to create the lake.
“We might not all have agreed along the way, at every turn, but eventually we all came together and we did.”
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