The Tarrant Regional Water District was awarded $440 million in low-interest loans Thursday by the Texas Water Development Board for a 150-mile pipeline that will stretch from East Texas to Tarrant County.
The $2.3 billion Integrated Pipeline Project, which is being built with Dallas Water Utilities as a partner, is designed to help meet the region’s water needs for the next several decades. Construction began in 2014, and the first phase is expected to be completed by spring 2018.
“By receiving this funding from the state, TRWD and its customers will save approximately $50 million over 30 years,” said Jim Oliver, the district’s general manager. “The funds will be used exclusively for completion of the first phase of the critically important IPL Project.”
When the project is finished, the 108-inch pipeline will bring an additional 200 million gallons of water a day to Tarrant County from the Richland-Chambers and Cedar Creek reservoirs in East Texas. Dallas will eventually tap up to 150 million gallons of water a day from Lake Palestine.
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Now, the Tarrant district can pump 350 million gallons a day from the reservoirs, which provide about 80 percent of its water supply.
The pipeline, designed to benefit both sides of the Metroplex, has been vigorously opposed by Dallas businessman Monty Bennett, who owns an exotic-game ranch along the route.
Bennett has sued the water district, and the land is now part of the LAZY W District No. 1, a municipal utility district created by the Legislature in 2011. Bennett also put a cemetery on his property to try to block the pipeline.
He helped fund two challengers in the May district board election. Both were defeated by incumbents.
The low-interest loans are part of the State Water Implementation Fund for Texas — SWIFT — which was created when legislators approved a one-time appropriation of $2 billion from the state’s rainy-day fund.
The Water Development Board expects to fund about $8 billion in projects over the first 10 years and $27 billion over 50 years.
“We’re very excited about the prospect of being able to support so many projects at the levels that we’re talking about,” board Chairman Bech Bruun told The Texas Tribune. “We hope that future rounds are just as successful. And if they are, we will certainly be able to achieve the $27 billion over 50 years.”
The inaugural round of SWIFT financing will go to 21 applicants for about $1 billion in projects in the first year and $3.9 billion over the next decade.
Other funding for local entities includes:
▪ $90 million to Bedford for water system and water meter improvements.
▪ $76 million to Fort Worth for advanced metering infrastructure. The city has yet to sign off on the funding.
▪ $17.1 million to Palo Pinto County Municipal Water District No. 1 for work on the proposed Turkey Peak Reservoir.
Environmental groups that have pushed for water conservation are cautiously optimistic about the first round of funding but will continue to monitor how the funding process plays out.
“The Sierra Club is especially supportive of SWIFT funding for the water conservation projects of the cities of Bedford and Fort Worth,” said Ken Kramer, water resources chairman for the Sierra Club’s Lone Star Chapter.
Bill Hanna, 817-390-7698