The release of the 2020 Census confirmed what everyone living in the North Texas region already knew: our area saw significant growth not only over the last decade but also in the six decades.
When we began delivering water in 1956, we had ten member cities serving a population of 32,000. Those numbers have increased to 2 million people who depend on North Texas Municipal Water District (NTMWD) to provide safe, reliable water to drink and use every day. Much credit goes to district and member city leaders whose vision and efforts over the years prepared us for this milestone, and the dedicated professionals committed to operating and maintaining these essential services around the clock.
The original water treatment plant in Wylie was built in the 1950s to treat water from Lavon Lake. Since then, it has been expanded to four treatment plants and upgraded several times. All of this accomplished at the same time as continuing to provide drinking water to a growing population. Currently, we have five water supply sources, six water treatment plants, 18 major water pump stations and over 610 miles of water transmission pipelines to meet the needs of our service area which covers approximately 2,200 square miles. We know we must continue our legacy of meeting the region’s need today while planning for tomorrow through investment in new infrastructure as well as maintenance of what’s existing.
Discussions began in the 1980s to prepare for our present water demands and expected growth with the Bois d’Arc Lake project. This new reservoir will be the first in Texas in over 30 years, and includes the two-mile reservoir dam, 60 miles of water transmission pipelines, public access boat ramps and the Leonard Water Treatment Plant. Located in Fannin County, this $1.6 billion project is scheduled to begin delivering treated water in 2022 and will help meet NTMWD’s water needs until about 2040.
Since planning and constructing a lake can take decades to achieve, we looked for innovative ways to extend our existing water supplies in the meantime. In addition to a proactive water conservation campaign, the $280 million East Fork Water Reuse (wetlands) project came online in 2009 and last year, the $150million Trinity River Main Stem Pump Station and Pipeline went into operation. Together, these two major projects can reuse an average of 90 million gallons of water each day from the Trinity River basin by sending it through the 1,840-acre wetlands, where it’s naturally filtered by plants and sunlight before pumping it north to Lavon Lake.
The District’s regional wastewater system began at the request of our member cities in the 1970s with a single plant. The District now operates more than 226 miles of pipelines and 13 wastewater treatment plants serving approximately 1.4 million in 24 North Texas communities. This vast system has also undergone expansions and upgrades over the years to reach today’s capacity to transport and treat approximately 163 million gallons of wastewater each day. Construction is underway on the Sister Grove Regional Water Resource Recovery Facility, located on a 1,000-acre site east of McKinney, to meet anticipated demands as soon as 2024.
The early 1980s brought a new request from five of our member cities: to provide wholesale solid waste services. Today, NTMWD ensures proper disposal for approximately 930,000 residents at the 673-acre NTMWD 121 Regional Disposal Facility located in Melissa. On average, around 1 million tons of solid waste is disposed of each year by those we serve. While the current landfill is expected to meet our region’s needs for the next 38 years, we operate it in such a way to maximize the permitted space and extend its useful life.
We are always reviewing population numbers in coordination with the communities we serve. As the population grows in North Texas, so does its demand for water, wastewater and solid waste services which could affect current projections. Much like the early District and member city leaders, we have the opportunity and commitment to shape our future and ensure these critical services are available for generations to come.