Design work is kicking off on the Upper Trinity Regional Water District’s  $490 million Lake Ralph Hall Conveyance System -- including a brand new reservoir -- one of largest water supply projects to be built in Texas in the last 30 years.

The district has selected Lockwood, Andrews & Newnam Inc. (LAN) as the prime general engineering consultant, along with CP&Y, Halff Associates and Plummer as sub-consultants.

“Lake Ralph Hall is a vital element in Upper Trinity’s long-term water supply portfolio. Once complete, the new reservoir will provide additional water to meet the needs of Upper Trinity’s growing service area for the next two decades,” says Larry N. Patterson, executive director for the Upper Trinity Regional Water District (UTRWD).

Lake Ralph Hall, named after longtime congressman Ralph Hall from Rockwall, Texas, will be built in southeast Fannin County on the North Sulphur River. Once complete, the project will provide an additional 54 million gallons per day (MGD) of treated water for the residents of Denton, Collin and Fannin counties, the population of which is projected to increase nearly fivefold in the next 50 years, according to the water district.

The project includes an approximately 2.3-mile dam that will be named after former Ladonia Mayor Leon Hurse, and the lake itself will be about 16,000 acres, which is about the same size as Lake Grapevine, northwest of Dallas, says Jason Pierce, manager of governmental affairs with UTRWD. Water for the lake will be generated in the upper watershed of the North Sulphur River, he adds.

A project delivery method has yet to be determined, but it will be at least 18 months before a contractor is engaged for the conveyance system, says Justin Reeves, vice president with LAN.

To connect the new lake with existing infrastructure, UTRWD is also building a raw water conveyance system, which includes a raw water pump station, 32 miles of pipeline and a new balancing reservoir. This raw water pipeline will connect Lake Ralph Hall to a proposed interconnection with existing infrastructure in Collin County.

The first phase of the conveyance system, which is now under design, will provide 42.5 MGD of raw water.

“Cross-country pipeline construction will present construction access issues and limitations, and sourcing material could be tough as well,” Reeves says of the challenges that lie ahead for the project team. “One portion will be a major earth work job—the balancing reservoir—and weather always is a major factor in a job like that.”

The engineering team will finalize the pipeline alignment to help UTRWD secure the necessary rights-of-way for future construction, maintenance and operation of the conveyance system. The team will also will develop the conceptual design for the overall hydraulic system, comprising the pump station, pipeline, balancing reservoir and interconnection. LAN will also collaborate with UTRWD to determine how these systems will work together, while Plummer will provide supporting services to develop the conceptual design of the balancing reservoir and pipeline interconnection. Halff Associates and CP&Y will provide surveying services to support property acquisition.

Lake Ralph Hall is the second major water project to start in the last two years in North Texas. Work began in May 2018 on the North Texas Municipal Water District’s $1.6 billion Bois d’Arc Lake, which is located northeast of Bonham in Fannin County.

“We haven’t built a lake in Texas in 30 years. It just so happens Texas has two projects going on now at the same time, but these are the first reservoir projects in decades,” Reeves says.

Conceptual design of the first phase of the Lake Ralph Hall conveyance system will be completed later this year before the project moves to final design in early 2021. Construction of various conveyance system elements is expected to start in late 2022, with the lake to be operational in 2025.