DALLAS - The two major water suppliers in the Dallas-Fort Worth region will team up to build a $1.9 billion pipeline from East Texas under a plan to survive drought over the next decade.
Dallas Water Utilities and the Tarrant Regional Water District in Fort Worth would share the cost of the 179-mile pipeline by issuing tax-exempt bonds. Both water districts enjoy triple-A ratings.
The plan for the pipeline comes as the growing metropolitan area reaches out farther for water supplies. The Tarrant district is involved in a lawsuit over its right to buy water rights from Oklahoma, 100 miles to the north. The suit, scheduled to go to trial Dec. 7, seeks to overturn that state's moratorium on out-of-state water sales. On Oct. 22, a hearing in Oklahoma City will consider Oklahoma's motion to throw out the suit.
Construction of the East Texas pipeline, connecting the two cities to Lake Palestine, could begin in 2014, with completion expected in 2018. The pipeline could deliver 197 million gallons per day, according to engineering estimates, and would increase Dallas' capacity by 150 million gallons per day.
The two districts are working on hiring a program manager in November with the goal of signing a contract by March. The districts received a briefing on the project last week. During construction of the pipeline, the Tarrant district also plans to buy rights for additional pipelines to bring water from the Toledo Bend Reservoir on the Texas-Louisiana border, 88 miles from Lake Palestine.
Dallas, meanwhile, is involved in a federal lawsuit over a proposed reservoir in East Texas that would further increase its supplies.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has designated the site for the proposed Lake Fastrill as a federal wildlife refuge, a designation that Dallas and the Texas Water Development Board are challenging. The water authorities have lost at the federal appeals court level and are waiting to see if the U.S. Supreme Court will consider their case.
The Tarrant district's system includes four major reservoirs and transmission facilities. It is authorized to supply 595 millions of gallons of water per day to customers in its service area.
"Future debt associated with the expansion of the water supply could cause a slight increase in the rates paid by district customers," according to Standard & Poor's.
The Dallas system supplies water and wastewater service to the city, which has a population of roughly 1.3 million, and several nearby cities, as well as Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport.
Although North Texas is not suffering the drought that has severely affected South and Central Texas, the region has experienced prolonged dry spells in the past decade.