Las Colinas is a 12,000-acre high quality residential-commercial development in Irving, Texas, located between Fort Worth and Dallas. One of the foremost appeals of the development is the water features such as lakes and canals that are interspersed throughout the property. In order for the development to succeed and maintain its aesthetic appeal, it was necessary to secure dedicated water supplies which would be available during drought periods. Reuse water has proven to be the answer to providing a dedicated supply, secure from water rationing and other constraints that might limit supplies from more conventional sources. Up to 8,000 acre-feet of treated effluent is purchased from the Central Regional Wastewater System under a long-term contract with the Trinity River Authority of Texas. The distribution and delivery systems were installed in the early 1980s; since then the project has successfully delivered quality irrigation water and has maintained the water level in lakes and canals throughout Las Colinas as part of what was the largest reuse project in Texas.
Las Colinas Development Concept History
Las Colinas, located in Irving, Texas, is one of the premier commercial-residential developments in the southwestern United States. Las Colinas houses several of the Fortune 500 companies that relocated to the Dallas/Fort Worth area in order to avail themselves of the benefits the development provides to businesses and residents. But while north central Texas can offer a quality of life based on the energy and purpose of the denizens, it offers neither the inspirational majesty of mountains, nor cool, refreshing forests. The aesthetic appeal must derive from verdant expanses and water features. In a region of the country beset by water scarcity, where conservation measures are often necessary to preserve resources for more basic needs, vegetated vistas and aesthetic features compete for available water.
The concept for Las Colinas was to provide an imaginative land use plan which would evolve into “community” settings, including office complexes, light industrial activities, residential settings, restaurants and shopping centers and recreation opportunities centered on water features. The concept involved master planning for a grouping of individual communities that would be part of a larger community. The Las Colinas Master Plan describes the development as a “city of villages.”
The master planners were specifically charged with providing extensive open space. The existing network of streams was to be used as a natural drainage way rather than using the traditional means of buried storm water systems or concrete-lined, trapezoidal open channels. The master plan also envisioned the system of lakes that are a signature
element of the development.
As part of the Las Colinas development, the Dallas County Utility and Reclamation District (DCURD or the District) provides services for the public lands within Las Colinas, and operates under the guidance of a five-person board of directors appointed by the City of Irving. Essentially, the District’s purpose is the conservation and development of natural resources. The District’s boundaries are located entirely within the City of Irving, Dallas County, Texas, and within the boundaries of the Las Colinas development. The District’s geographical size is approximately 3,665 acres. Among other areas, the principal waterways in Las Colinas are owned by the District in fee simple. The District has water rights to divert water from the Elm Fork of the Trinity River. Permits provide rights to 1,100 acre-feet per year from the Elm Fork of the Trinity River for irrigation purposes and 221 acre-feet per year from the Elm Fork of the Trinity River to irrigate 187 acres within the District. The former is a junior right to the City of Dallas and requires that the Elm Fork be spilling over a channel dam below Las Colinas before water can be diverted. Because of this condition, the supply is not considered dependable in the summer months or drought periods. The second permit stems from a riparian right and is not subordinate to other water rights.