WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation (WIIN) Act (S. 612), which included a modified bipartisan amendment introduced by Congressman Sam Johnson (TX-03) that will expedite the federal permitting process for the Lower Bois d’Arc Creek Reservoir in North Texas.
Specifically, this amendment would require the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) to finalize their review of the Lower Bois d’Arc Creek Reservoir on an expedited basis. These federal regulators have already spent nearly a decade reviewing the reservoir – a reservoir that is crucial if North Texas wishes to avoid local water deficits projected to hit in 2021.
Furthermore, the amendment sets forth an important benchmark that will require the Secretary of the Army to report back to Congress by June 30th, 2017 with an update on the reservoir’s permit review.
After the passage of the WIIN Act, Representatives Sam Johnson – along with amendment co-authors Pete Sessions (TX-32), John Ratcliffe (TX-04), and Eddie Bernice Johnson (TX-30) – released the following statements:
Sam Johnson: “Drought is a frequent problem in Texas, which is why water is always a top priority in our area. But many folks don’t know that our local reservoirs will soon be unable to meet the total water demands of our area. You see, at Collin County’s current rate of projected population growth, by 2021 we won’t have enough water to meet demand unless a new reservoir is built. And the impact of not having this new reservoir would be direct –water as part of our normal, daily routine would be affected. It’s a serious situation, and one that I’ve long been working on. But with four years needed to build and fill the reservoir, time is running out. This amendment is a vital step to providing North Texans’ access to clean, affordable water – something all Americans want, need, and deserve.”
Pete Sessions: “Water in Texas is a precious resource that must be valued, appreciated, and most importantly protected. I have fought long and hard alongside my North Texas colleagues and the North Texas Municipal Water District to cut through unnecessary bureaucratic hurdles and expedite construction on this necessary project. After a lot of hard work and persistence from everyone involved in this process, I am proud that we got this done to ensure North Texas families have access to a sustainable supply of drinking water.”
John Ratcliffe: “Meeting Northeast Texas’ growing water needs is difficult enough without any extra roadblocks from federal bureaucrats. I’m glad the House has passed our legislation to peel back the layers of EPA red tape that have delayed a final decision on the Bois d'Arc Creek Reservoir for far too long.”
Eddie Bernice Johnson: “The North Texas Municipal Water District has long endeavored to develop a reservoir project in Fannin County, Texas. This project would address the growing population within the water district, which is expected to double to 3.7 million residents within the next 50 years. The project would also support millions of dollars in regional economic growth, while helping us to meet the projected North Texas water supply needs through 2040 and beyond. I am glad we were able to get this accomplished today.”
Congressman Johnson’s original amendment was adopted by the House of Representatives via voice vote on September 28th, 2016 as part of the Water Resources Development Act (H.R. 5303), and it was modified in conference committee and included in the final legislative package, S. 612.
Water Facts You Should Know
- The local NTMWD currently serves 1.6 million people across 10 counties in one of the fastest-growing areas in the nation.
- Population is expected to increase to almost 2.4 million by 2030 and double to 3.7 million by 2070.
- If population continues to grow as expected and a new reservoir isn’t online in the drought-prone region, a water supply deficit is projected to hit in 2021.
- The North Texas Municipal Water District (NTMWD) has worked over a decade to get a new reservoir (the Lower Bois d’Arc Creek Reservoir) online.
- The EPA and USACE have needlessly obstructed this necessary project for the North Texas community and reversed course throughout the permit process.
- The Lower Bois d’Arc Creek Reservoir in Fannin County is the first of several needed reservoirs over decades to come. It will provide for the water needs of existing and future residents and businesses in North Texas.
- The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality has already issued the state permit for the locally funded project – its first uncontested state water permit in 50 years.
- This reservoir will yield safe, high quality water that will be in compliance with all state and federaldrinking water regulations.