Thomas W. (Tom) Kula
“Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are sure to miss the future.”
– John F. Kennedy
The topic of change is a common theme in recent discussions as we discuss the future of the District. Our organization will celebrate 60 years of service later this year and the one thing that hasn’t changed is our commitment to providing the highest quality water and most dependable service at the lowest possible cost. Our history of success has been based on our leaders’ ability to adapt and evolve to meet the ever-changing conditions and needs of the region.
We have always listened to those we serve to ensure we make the best decisions and the right changes. Throughout my 20 months as Executive Director, I have continued to work to build relationships with our communities and listen to their ideas for how we can improve the services we provide.
We heard from everyone that one of the biggest issues of 2015 was high water bills. Like many water providers across the country, NTMWD continues to experience significant cost pressures from three key areas:
Our wholesale water rates are lower than other similar providers in our region at only one-quarter of a penny per gallon, yet we are always committed to seeking opportunities to gain efficiencies in our operations, and efforts are underway to re-evaluate the prioritization of our planned capital projects. We’re also working with our cities and communities to increase public understanding about what it takes to continue providing safe and reliable services. We provide essential services, not purely a commodity.
Once again, NTMWD will ask our residents to make changes to their outdoor watering practices. We learned during the drought years that most lawns only need to be watered once per week in the summer and even less in the winter. But when watering restrictions were lifted, some residents resumed pre-drought watering schedules of two or more times per week and were shocked when they received their water bill. With the uncertainty of annual precipitation on top of significant growth in North Texas, we must continue using water wisely and cannot afford to return to excessive watering practices.
One way to manage your water bill this summer is to stick with drought time watering schedules. Sign up at www.WaterMyYard.org for weekly email or text notifications with recommendations on the amount of water your lawn needs based on actual precipitation and conditions in your area. It’s that simple and will help make a huge difference.
Avoiding water waste and reducing water consumption is the best way to lower your summertime water bills. It also goes a long way to help us protect existing water supplies for the next few years until a new major water source is available – the Lower Bois d’Arc Creek Reservoir in Fannin County. If we experience another multi-year drought at the same time we have significant growth in our region, the District may have to resort to emergency drought response measures.
The NTMWD is willing to do what it takes to adapt to changing needs as we continue providing essential services the region has counted on for 60 years. And, with the ongoing support of the communities we serve, together we can and will overcome the challenges ahead.
February 29, 2016
The first forty years of the history of the North Texas Municipal Water District is a fascinating story and well documented in our 1994 publication "Gift of Water, Legacy of Service.” The last chapter, titled “Lessons of the Past and a Look Toward the Future,” highlights the importance of our mission.
"To ensure that our children's children have the quantity and quality of water they need, we have to keep our eyes focused on 2050,” said Loncy Leake, then Chairman of the NTMWD Water Committee and director from Mesquite. “Persistent planning for the future is all that's allowed our water supply to stay ahead of a constantly increasing demand."
Today's District staff and Board of Directors are committed to overcoming the towering challenges that lie ahead, as the District has always been. We have two important near-term projects to provide additional water supplies for our growing region and are seeking federal permits for both: the Trinity River Main Stem Pump Station to divert additional water through our wetlands project for reuse, and the Lower Bois d'Arc Creek Reservoir in Fannin County. The future of North Texas depends on these projects getting approved and built.
In 1990, James Nichols, chairman of Freese & Nichols, Inc., consulting engineers for NTMWD, penned a letter expressing his dire concern that the number of water projects would fail to meet the demand of our growing region in as few as 50 years. We are now halfway through that 50 year period, and we can see that the region has grown even more than predicted - doubling from 800,000 to 1.6 million and due to double again in the next 40 years. This is why it is imperative that projects, like the Lower Bois d’Arc Creek Reservoir and the Trinity River Main Stem Pump Station, are approved and built as soon as possible so we can meet our growing demand for water services.
“We need vision for the future… [and] we need perseverance for both the future and the present,” said Leake in the closing chapter of our history book. “We have to keep a ‘worst-case scenario’ in mind, even during wet cycles like the one we’ve been experiencing lately, when none of our cities are even using the minimum amount of water under their contracts.” Leake’s words ring even truer now than ever before, reminding us to plan ahead for the dramatic swings in North Texas weather patterns.
The future will always present formidable obstacles, but it also provides opportunity for those who are willing and able to make the climb. As Truett Smith, one of the NTMWD founders from Wylie, might say: "Bring on the next forty years!"
December 11, 2015