Wednesday, February 6, 2013
Lake Ralph Hall in Flower Mound battle could take months for a decision
Testimony on both sides of the case concluded Jan. 25.
FLOWER MOUND Both sides of the Lake Ralph Hall issue have stated their case, and now they must wait several months for a decision.
The contested case hearing for the 30-million-gallons-per-day (mgd) lake concluded Jan. 25 after nine days of testimony before two administrative law judges at the State Office of Administrative Hearings in Austin.
Years ago, the Upper Trinity Regional Water District submitted a water rights application for Lake Ralph Hall, which is set to be located near Ladonia in Fannin County.
Flower Mound, UTRWD’s largest customer, has opposed the lake for nearly a decade, which has held up the project.
Flower Mound officials, including Mayor Tom Hayden, said there are less expensive ways to address the region’s water needs that haven’t been explored, including purchasing more water from Dallas Water Utilities. Flower Mound representatives expect the lake to cost $460 million, though UTRWD projects the lake to cost $275 million.
UTRWD, however, argue that projections from the Texas Data Center have Denton County more than doubling in population by 2040. They said the lake is necessary to meet those demands.
Hayden has said Flower Mound residents’ water rates will increase because of the added debt taken on for the lake project. UTRWD president Tom Taylor has said the rates go up because the town over projected its water need in 1999 when it purchased an extra 10 mgd of water.
During the next few weeks, a brief summation of the hearing will be prepared and given to each side. They will each have a chance for a rebuttal.
Later this spring, the administrative law judges are expected to make a ruling. The side that is ruled against will have an opportunity to present a brief arguing the ruling.
Sometime in the late summer or early fall, each side will make their presentation to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), which will then make the final ruling. TCEQ is not obligated to go along with the judges’ ruling.
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