It’s not every day that you get to announce the building of a new lake, much less two. North Texas is soon to be home to Bois d’ Arc Lake and Lake Ralph Hall, Texas’ two newest lakes. Both lakes are in Fannin County. Bois D’ Arc Lake is located four miles northeast of Bonham, Texas, on Bois d’ Arc Creek, a tributary of the Red River. Lake Ralph Hall is located on the North Sulphur River in Fannin County, two miles north of the City of Ladonia.
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Bois d’ Arc Lake
Bois d’ Arc Lake will meet the water needs and demands for this growing region of 2 million people until 2040. The North Texas Municipal Water District (NTMWD) owns and operates Bois d’ Arc Lake. To mitigate the loss of habitat and impact on some local streams, NTMWD completed one of the largest environmental improvement projects in the U.S.
Environmental Impact of Bois d’ Arc Lake
The NTMWD has restored 51,000 acres surrounding Bois d’ Arc Lake. The district hired Resource Environmental Solutions (RES), a national expert in environmental restoration, to return these acres to their natural, pre-agricultural condition and to maintain, measure, and monitor its success until NTMWD’s permit requirements are met. This project may take up to 20 years.
RES hired local residents to work on the project, and the project team has worked closely with officials in Fannin County. Over six million saplings were planted in early 2022. Work transitioned from active construction to maintenance in the middle of 2022. RES will remain for years to come, maintaining fences, monitoring, and managing invasive species along with any other needed adjustments.
Projected Cost of Bois d’ Arc Lake
The projected cost for Bois d’ Arc Lake is approximately $1.6 billion. This figure includes all the project’s components of planning, permitting, land acquisition, engineering, design, construction, and mitigation, plus separately planned projects that will treat water from the new lake and expand the regional water delivery system.
How Full is Bois d’ Arc Lake?
Bois d’ Arc Lake began to fill in 2021, with the goal of delivering treated water in 2022. It was not until January 2022 that the lake began recording water levels.
As of July 2022, Bois d’ Arc Lake is 38.8% full. The goal of delivering treated water happens sometime in 2022. On average, Bois d’ Arc Lake will be 22 feet deep with a max depth of 70 feet.
NTMWD built four public access areas with boat ramps, picnic areas and restrooms. One access point with boat ramps is located near FM 897 on the south shore of the lake. Two others are located on the lake’s north shore where it intersects with FM 1396, and another is on the south shore of FM 1396 where the road and the lake intersect.
NTMWD collaborated with Texas Parks and Wildlife (TPWD) to establish preferable game fish species. TPWD stocked the Bois d’ Arc Lake with largemouth bass and catfish. The lake also supports other local fish populations. The district and TPWD worked to establish suitable fish habitats in the lake, including anchored brush piles.
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Lake Ralph Hall
Lake Ralph Hall is the newest of the two lakes and the newest lake in Texas. It is still under construction. Construction is still scheduled to be completed within the original proposed time frame. However, the drought and inflation have thrown some snags in the works. The dam materials need to be kept moist while under construction.
The Upper Trinity Regional Water District (UTRWD) provides water services to all of Denton County and portions of Collin and Dallas counties. Lake Ralph Hall will provide up to 35 million gallons of “raw” water and 19 million gallons of reuse water each day when completed.
Construction broke ground on Lake Ralph Hall in June, 2021, and is expected to deliver water in 2026. Major construction right now focuses on the SH 54 bridge, which is halfway completed, and the dam, which is about 10% complete.
Lake Ralph Hall’s size is expected to cover 12 square miles at this time. It is projected to have a depth ranging from 10 to 60 feet deep. The lake project employs from 250 to 300 workers a day, It has been tough to keep a full work force crew going because of the lake’s rural location.
Projected Cost of Lake Ralph Hall
The estimated cost for Lake Ralph Hall is approximately $490 million, which includes planning, permitting, purchasing land, designing, and construction. The Texas Water Development Board’s State Water Implementation Fund for Texas (SWIFT) program is helping to finance the project.
So far, approximately one half of the total budget has been contracted out. Inflation may cause the total cost of Ralph Hall Lake to rise. UTRWD’s executive director, Larry Patterson, is not stating a final cost at this stage in its construction.
Environmental Impact of Lake Ralph Hall
There are federal requirements that the Ralph Hall Lake project must mitigate any habitat disruptions. UTRWD workers will recreate a portion of the original Sulphur River channel, which will mitigate aquatic habitation. UTRWD will collaborate with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and other organizations when it comes to other environmental mitigation.
The land is given an acre-by-acre score based on type, like crop, water, forest, etc. The project has to recreate and replace the environmental habitats it removed or destroyed. Officials have to achieve the federal requirements within a certain time frame and monitor the progress for many years. It is a long-term commitment.
Recreational Use at Lake Ralph Hall
Lake Ralph Hall is an economic boom to its region, and especially to Ladonia, Texas, a sleepy rural town. The lake will provide recreational uses, such as fishing and boating, in the town’s backyard. This project has the support of over 35 local organizations, including cities, water districts, chambers of commerce, and citizen groups. It is too early to say exactly what Lake Ralph Hall will provide in the way of recreational amenities.
The North Sulphur River is a superb site for Lake Ralph Hall. There are limited wetlands, a naturally deep channel, and no gas or oil wells. The Ladonia Fossil Park is closed and temporarily relocated to the east side of FM 2990 on the north side of the North Sulphur River. The park’s relocation will provide opportunities for additional and untapped fossil discoveries.