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August 2022

Getting the Seal of Approval:
From Permits to Funding

It takes decades to permit a major reservoir, and years to build it. Ronna Hartt, Upper Trinity’s Assistant Director of Operations – Water Resources, has played a key role shepherding the Lake Ralph Hall project through these critical phases.
Planning for the lake began in 2001, and the project obtained its U. S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) Section 404 permit needed to start construction in 2020.
“From 2008 to 2019 I worked closely with the Corps and a third-party contractor to develop the project’s Environmental Impact Statement, and I collaborated with many other agencies—including Texas Parks and Wildlife, the Environmental Protection Agency and Texas Commission on Environmental Quality—to develop the project’s Mitigation Plan,” Hartt explained. “These are the two key documents that led to the Section 404 permit. After receiving the Section 404 Permit, we completed design of the dam, bridges and roadways, and then began construction in June 2021.”
What’s kept her going these 14 years? It all comes down to one word—perseverance. “Permitting a new reservoir is a lengthy process,” said Hartt. “With any project of this magnitude, there will be challenges. You must acknowledge that going in and choose to persevere.”

Now that construction has started, Hartt has taken on a range of new, but related responsibilities. She continues to work closely with other government agencies, particularly the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB), which is financing the majority of Lake Ralph Hall thru the State Water Implementation Fund for Texas programs.
In addition, Hartt also oversees other elements of the project. “I directly manage our roadway Progressive Design Build contract and provide oversite of the other program elements,” which include the dam, aquatic mitigation, conveyance system and other onsite facilities.
Her years with a front row seat to the project have given Hartt a clear vision on the importance of water, and specifically Lake Ralph Hall.
“Water is the life blood of everything,” she pointed out. “No one can live without water—it’s an absolute necessity that is often taken for granted. I’ve come to realize just how precious our water is, and how much time, energy and effort it takes to treat and deliver it to our communities. That’s why those of us at Upper Trinity have to plan 50 years in advance and track our population growth—so we can keep up with demand."

"Lake Ralph Hall is going to be a critical water source for our customers, and we need it by 2026,” she concluded. “Being a part of such a monumental water supply project is incredibly rewarding.”

Lake Ralph Hall Construction Progresses

With just over a year of construction activity, significant work has been completed to make Lake Ralph Hall a reality. 
When finished, the earthen dam will be about 2 miles long and 90 feet high with a width of 1,000 feet (approximately 3 football fields) at its widest point. About 95% of the entire site has been cleared of brush and trees for the dam floor. Dirt is being placed and compacted for the embankment on both the sides of the reservoir. Excavation is underway for the future spillway. Over the next few years, crews will place about 5 million yards of dirt and 200,000 yards of concrete to finish the spillway.
The State Highway 34 North Sulphur River bridge that will span the new lake is also advancing. The columns and caps have all been placed, and the contractor Flatiron Construction is installing the last of the 343 large, 125-foot-long beams this summer. Merrill Creek Bridge, a second bridge that will offer access over a finger of the lake, is also underway with columns being placed and beam installation continuing in the coming months.
For information on construction progress, watch the newest construction update video at

Texas Parks and Wildlife
Garners Grant for Fish Habitat

Installing fish habitat in the footprint of future Lake Ralph Hall

The Texas Parks and Wildlife's Inland Fisheries Department (TPWD) applied for and recently received $250,000 in grant funding from Bass Pro Shops for fish habitat in Lake Ralph Hall. The funds will be used to acquire riprap, concrete and Reef Balls for fish habitat; create gravel spawning beds; and make an earthen jetty that will increase shoreline fishing opportunities. Upper Trinity is coordinating closely with TPWD on the best locations for these structures and will assist in acquiring contractors and/or heavy equipment for the funded activities.

Getting Teachers Acquainted
with Lake Ralph Hall

Upper Trinity staff hosted an information table at the Dodd City Teacher Conference held at the Bois d’Arc Lake Operations Center last month. The conference was a good opportunity to connect with local teachers about Lake Ralph Hall and share information about available teacher resources. Team members provided brochures about the lake as well as its water conservation and watershed protection lesson plans developed by the University of North Texas.

In The News:

Upper Trinity Regional
Water District

900 North Kealy Avenue
Lewisville, Texas 75067
(972) 219-1228
Lake Ralph Hall Office
10910 State Highway 34
Ladonia, Texas 75449
(903) 367-7008
Hours: 8 a.m. – 1 p.m., M–F,
or by appointment
Copyright © 2022 Upper Trinity Regional Water District, All Rights Reserved.

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Lake Ralph Hall (UTRWD) · PO Box 305 · Lewisville, TX 75067-0305 · USA

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