Building Productive Partnerships for Long-term Reliability

Bois d’Arc Lake dam

The construction of Bois d’Arc Lake was completed in the Fall of 2022, marking the first new reservoir to be built in Texas in over 30 years. Decades of planning and permitting went into this new water supply, located in Fannin County, which spans more than 16,000 acres of surface water. As the steward of Bois d’Arc Lake, the North Texas Municipal Water District (NTMWD) has prioritized local partnerships from the very beginning to ensure public well-being now and in the future. Together, these partnerships create solutions for our growing region that no single entity could provide on its own.

Any project that spans jurisdictions, including federal, state, county, and municipal organizations, requires building mutually beneficial partnerships. Bois d’Arc Lake was successful due to the holistic approach all the partners took. It was not just about creating a new water supply for the region; it was also focused on the sustainable development of the surrounding area in a way that enhances economic and recreational opportunities without sacrificing the environment. To accomplish this, NTMWD assembled a team of dedicated partners to match the right expertise to each area of the project and to develop a Shoreline Management Plan that guides future recreational use.

Early on, relationships were forged with Fannin County, the Cities of Bonham and Leonard, the Fannin County Historical Society, and other local stakeholders. NTMWD engaged with entities such as the National Wildlife Federation and the Sierra Club during permitting of the lake. Also, a unique partnership was formed with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, which worked to enhance fish habitat and introduce trophy-class fish species while the lake was under construction. Throughout the planning and construction phases, NTMWD worked closely with Fannin County and local school districts to prevent the loss of tax revenue as a result of property acquisition for the reservoir and kept the lines of communication open with elected officials to keep them informed.

FM 897 Bridge and public boat ramp

With support from NTMWD, Fannin County developed a comprehensive plan for development around the lake, including zoning and development guidance. Protecting the quality of the water and improving transportation and communication access for residents were goals shared by all partners. Previously, Fannin County included many areas that were “dark”—not covered by radio or cellular service—so the District worked to enhance public safety by funding a communications tower to improve coverage. In addition, older wooden plank bridges prone to flooding were reconstructed to Texas Department of Transportation’s current standards to improve everyday access for local residents. A new road and bridge (FM 897) were constructed across the lake to help maintain roadway access in Fannin County. NTMWD also partnered with Fannin County Sheriff’s Department and Texas Parks and Wildlife to ensure public safety on and around the lake. In addition to these safety measures, two new water treatment plants were constructed by NTMWD in Fannin County, one in Leonard to treat water from Bois d’Arc Lake and one built earlier to replace an obsolete, poorly functioning plant in Bonham. As part of its support for local communities, NTMWD is committed to providing drinking water from these treatment plants to meet the future needs of Fannin County.

Bois d’Arc Lake Operations Center nature area

To prepare for future recreational use, three public boat ramps and picnic areas for day use were constructed by NTMWD. The NTMWD Lake Operations Center that was constructed includes an Emergency Command Center, nature area, and overnight quarters for Fannin County and Texas Parks and Wildlife personnel tasked with public safety and wildlife management on the lake. The Lake Operations Center was also designed to serve as an educational resource. Local school districts are able to host teacher development events at the Lake Operations Center, and Dodd City ISD is also utilizing the facilities to enhance its public education initiatives.

Collaborating with local communities to preserve and enhance the quality of our collective water resource and the surrounding natural environment for future generations is at the core of NTMWD’s commitment to serving North Texas as a responsible steward. The Bois d’Arc Lake project is emblematic of the District’s desire to build strong working relationships that turn into long-term partnerships.

Although Bois d’Arc Lake is not yet open for public recreation, NTMWD is wholly committed to supporting conscious economic growth around the lake without compromising our collective environmental resources. This lake will serve as a reliable source of safe drinking water for millions of North Texans, a critical wildlife habitat, and a natural playground for residents of all ages to enjoy for generations to come. Bois d’Arc Lake was only made possible due to the strength of all the local, state, and private partners involved.