You might have heard that the U.S. House yesterday approved the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), clearing the way for our defense budget next year to hit a record $858 billion (after the Senate and president give their approval, which is expected next week). What does that have to do with little White Rock Lake?
Packed into the NDAA are all sorts of measures unrelated to military spending. There’s the Daniel Anderl Judicial Security and Privacy Act, for example, which aims to protect federal judges and their families and which some folks have a beef with because it’ll hide Ginni Thomas’ misdeeds. Also included in the NDAA is something called the Water Resources Development Act, which authorizes the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to do all sorts of stuff with infrastructure and flood control and so on. That’s where White Rock Lake comes in.
“It allows us to collaborate with the Corps of Engineers on next steps for a dredge,” says Councilwoman Paula Blackmon, who represents District 9, within which the lake lies. “It’s the first step in a long dating process.”
To continue with the councilwoman’s analogy, Dallas just slid into the Corps’ DMs. We’re at the stage where Dallas is like, “Hey, Corps, have you seen the second season of White Lotus yet?” And the Corps is like, “No. But we hear it’s great! So you got a hardwood forest?” The actual hookup, the part where we get some of those sexy federal dollars, is still a ways away.
Here was the last update we had on the project, from 2020. Depending on how this works out, getting the lake dredged and squared away will cost between $50 million and $80 million. In addition to federal dollars, the city will be looking to the Texas Legislature for help. And then there’s the city’s planned 2024 bond program, which will kick in some more cash.
It’ll all be spent to return the lake to something more closely resembling its intended state. Parts of the northern end of the lake have silted in so much that the water is only 6 feet deep. When the water level drops, as it sometimes does, ugly stuff happens. A healthy ecosystem—for fish, waterfowl, and humans—requires action. Yesterday we got some.