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KERA's news coverage of environmental issues in North Texas, the state and beyond.

Crucial Permits Approved For Lake Ralph Hall

Dana Ann Evans

State environmental commissioners have approved crucial permits for Lake Ralph Hall in Fannin County.

The vote was historic, marking the first time since 1985 that the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality has approved the construction of a lake that would be a water supply.

Commissioner Toby Baker said the step forward comes at a pivotal time.

“Right now what we’re dealing with in the state of Texas is a population that is growing exponentially and a water supply that is remaining static, exacerbated by one of the worst droughts we have ever had,” Baker said.

The Upper Trinity River Authority plans to build Lake Ralph Hall along the North Sulphur River, northeast of Dallas. 

The reservoir, named after the Rockwall congressman, would be about the size of Lake Grapevine when completed in a decade or so.

The Upper Trinity water district says the lake is needed to meet a growing population.

But Flower Mound Public Works Director Ken Parr asked commissioners to deny the permits.

“We feel there are some other options that are more cost effective that have not been addressed,” Parr said.

The City of Flower Mound, the water district’s biggest customer, believes the population projections are inflated and its residents may see their water bills skyrocket more than the 15 percent that’s estimated.

Environmental groups told commissioners the project does not meet new standards for water conservation. Myron Hess spoke on behalf of the National Wildlife Federation.

“Basic program components are missing.  There’s no enforcement mechanism, no rebate program to help residential or commercial users upgrade to more efficient equipment,” said Hess.

But state commissioners rejected those arguments and gave the green light for Lake Ralph Hall to move forward. 

The Upper Trinity Water District says it must still acquire some of the land gain approval from the Army Corp of Engineers before breaking ground in several years.

Former KERA staffer Shelley Kofler was news director, managing editor and senior reporter. She is an award-winning reporter and television producer who previously served as the Austin bureau chief and legislative reporter for North Texas ABC affiliate WFAA-TV.