Frequently Asked Questions

Water Rights and Mt. Pleasant Releases

In the mid-1880s, the Texas Legislature adopted a system that authorized the appropriation of water use by the state. This appropriations system (or prior appropriations system) requires those wanting to use the State’s surface waters, including the Franklin County Water District (District), to file and seek state permission through the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ). Under this system, “first in time, first in right”, the earlier established water users were deeded to have a senior priority to use the water over junior water right holders. Anyone now wishing to use surface water in Texas (with only a few exceptions) is now required to hold such a certificate or receive new permission from the state in the form of a "Certificate of Adjudication" or “water right.”

The District owns a water right granted by the State, through TCEQ, that provides the District the ability to hold (impound), sell, divert, and use water from Lake Cypress Springs. In addition to being granted the right to use water, the District is required and obligated to meet all senior downstream water right calls of senior priority and abide by water contracts established outside of the certificate. These other water right owners exist throughout the Cypress River Basin. Through close coordination and communication of operations, the various stakeholders in the basin are able to optimize water uses and work together for a basin-wide understanding of prioritization.

The table below lists the major basin water right stakeholders and their respective impoundments, priorities, and water right certificate numbers.



Priority Date

Certificate of Adjudication #

Lone Star Steel Company

Ellison Creek Reservoir



North East Texas Municipal Water District (NETMWD)

Lake O' the Pines (LoTP)



Franklin County Water District (District) and the City of Mount Pleasant (CoMP)

Lake Cypress Springs (LCS)



Titus County Fresh Water Supply District (TCFWSD)

Lake Bob Sandlin (LBS)




As shown in the table above, the District owns water right 04-4560B, giving the District the right to impound a specific volume of water at LCS. Additionally, notice that although the District is upstream of all other reservoirs, the District's priority (1966) is not the most-senior in the basin. This means that water entering LCS cannot be held by the reservoir until the water rights of downstream senior water right owners have taken their allotment downstream. Both Ellison Reservoir (1942) and LoTP (1957) have priority dates that are senior to the Districts, and both are downstream of LCS.

Certificate 04-4560B is the third version (original, then A, and then B) of the water right that has been amended for various reasons. The table below outlines the certificate versions.

CoA Version



Original Certificate providing, among other things, the District’s authorization to impound, operate, and manage Lake Cypress Springs.


Water Right Purchase to amendment CoA 04-4560 to sell a portion (3,590 ac-ft) of water to TCFWSD for a lump sum amount of $3,300,000 and an annual M&O payment of $90,000 (adjusted for yearly CPI) for the useful life of the reservoir.


Administrative amendment to turn the portion of TCFWSD-owned water from 04-4560A over to CoMP.



In February of 1997, the District sold a portion of their water right in CoA 04-4560A to Titus County Fresh Water Supply District (TCFWSD), who subsequently sold the water right to the City of Mount Pleasant (CoMP). In purchasing a portion of the water right 04-4560B, the CoMP is allowed to divert no-more than 3,590 acre-feet of water per year from the firm yield of Lake Cypress Springs. One acre-foot of water is a unit of volume equal to the volume of a sheet of water one acre in area and one foot in depth; 43,560 cubic feet. This total volume (3,590 acre-feet) is approximately 1 ft. of water in the reservoir that must be released per year.

The water right purchase by the CoMP obligates the District to deliver up to the 3,590 ac-ft per year to the CoMP through the dam downstream into Lake Bob Sandlin, where the CoMP can then take the water from LBS for municipal use. This process begins in January with a request from the city for a specific target volume of water to be released. Although the maximum request can be 3,590 ac-ft, the CoMP does not need the full amount to meet their system demands, so the requested volume has always been less than the maximum. The District then uses this target volume to base its releases of obligated water downstream into LBS where it can then be diverted for use by the CoMP. The District, based on a clear set of rules agreed upon by the basin stakeholders, attempts to minimize water surface impacts to LCS, particularly in the summer months, by scheduling releases in the early parts of January/February and later in the year. By working closely with the CoMP and the other basin stakeholders, the District can meet its obligations downstream while trying to minimize the drawdown of the reservoir. With that said, the District is required to release the annual water called-upon by the CoMP regardless of season, lake elevation, or weather conditions. In times of drought, even when the reservoir is already low, the District is still obligated to release the volume requested by the CoMP each year. Because the District has a fixed spillway (as opposed to a gate system), the physical delivery of this water must be met through the 18" low-flow outlet located on the morning-glory service spillway. The physical delivery of this water through the dam is further explained below.

There are only a few various ways water impounded in LCS can leave the reservoir:

1.     The Morning-Glory Service Spillway

2.     The 18" low-flow outlet

3.     The emergency spillway

4.     Wholesale municipal use through customer diversions

5.     Evaporation, transpiration, or seepage

Below is a schematic (not-to-scale) that outlines the working elevations and the hydraulic elements of LCS. As shown below, the primary method that water leaves the reservoir is through the morning-glory service spillway. This spillway is a 10'X10' L-shaped box culvert that only will convey water after the water reaches an elevation of 378' mean sea level (m.s.l.). This is considered the normal pool or "conservation pool" of LCS. The spillway is affixed with a fish screen up to 384' m.s.l<. to prevent grass-carp from entering LBS. The low-flow outlet is an 18" penetration into the morning glory service spillway that the District can open with a set of valves located at the dam. As discussed above, this low-flow outlet is only used to deliver obligated water to the CoMP or other senior downstream water rights holders. The low-flow outlet is not able to convey a large amount of water and is only opened if the level of LCS is below the conservation pool elevation. If the low-flow outlet is opened in these situations, it is only capable of lowering the LCS reservoir approximately 1-foot in 1-month. Another component, the emergency spillway is situated at elevation 385' m.s.l. Although useful in the event of a 500+ year storm event, the emergency spillway is for emergency use only and has not been engaged in the history of the reservoir. Additionally, the District has 3 wholesale customers (intake elevations shown in the schematic below) that divert raw water from the lake for municipal use:

1.     Cypress Springs SUD - 370.6 m.s.l.

2.     City of Winnsboro - 370.0 m.s.l.

3.     City of Mt. Vernon - 365.0 m.s.l.


The water right obligations the District must meet within the Cypress Basin, coupled with the limits of our hydraulic capabilities, can make the operations of the lake seem confusing and unclear, particularly in times of drought or flood. The District makes this information available in hopes that understanding the complexity of reservoir management will clarify why and how the District does what it does.

Yes. Just pull onto any non-reserved site and the Camp Host or Lake Patrol will be by to collect the fee. You can insure that a site is not reserved by checking the card holder at the front of the camp site or by checking with any lake patrol officer.
Reservations may be made no more than 60 days in advance, online here, by telephone, or in person at the District office during business hours of 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m., Monday thru Friday. Calls left on voice mail for reservations will not be returned. Please use the online system during non-business hours. Reservation check in and check out time is 4:00 p.m.
Yes, golf carts are allowed in District parks, except for Mary King Park, as long as they are operated by a person with a valid driver license and in an safe and prudent manner.
Yes, but they have to be turned off at 10:00 p.m. if the noise is disturbing other campers.
There is a 10:00 p.m. curfew and it is enforced by the Lake Patrol officers.
No, parasailing is prohibited on Lake Cypress Springs.
Information concerning Hydrilla can be obtained at our Forms & Documents page on the Hydrilla Information link.
Texas Parks and Wildlife (TPW) officials have clarified the public’s right to fish from a boat on all public waters, providing no game law regulations are being violated. According to TPW legal counsel Boyd Kennedy, “Waters that are open to the public for fishing include coastal waters, major lakes and rivers, and many smaller streams and lakes. If a lake is public water, then all of the lake is public water, including the water around marinas and boat docks. The right to build or operate a marina, dock or other structure on or over public water does not carry with it the right to restrict boating or fishing from a boat.” By law, the basic authority for the enactment of fishing and boating regulations is reserved to the state. Some local government authorities may impose boating regulations for safety purposes, but TPW statistics show that fishing around marinas and boat docks is not a safety problem. “Harassment of a law-abiding fisherman is a crime punishable by fine and/or imprisonment”, Kennedy added.
The District owns land in fee simple in order to retain the ability to deal with potential high water from the impoundment of the reservoir. While some reservoirs have a flood easement, the District accomplishes the same thing through direct ownership. The District is then allowed by law to lease land as long as the leasing of the land does not interfere with the District’s statutory duties. Because the land belongs to the public and is in the care of the District, public land cannot legally be in private use without the public being fairly CoMPensated. The lessee is given a 99-year lease on the land and pays a nominal lease fee every year. Fee simple ownership of land by the District is where direct authority to make rules derives from. Zoning type rules are what maintains the property values and quality of life on District property.
To obtain a 99-year extension on Leasehold lots, an Extended Lease Agreement must be signed, a bonus payment in the amount of $400.00 per acre must be paid, along with the current County Clerk’s recording fee. The annual lease fee will remain the same for the remainder of the first lease agreement; however, the annual lease fee for the second 99-year term will be $200.00 per acre. For more information, call the District office.
The fee charged for your boathouse and pier allows you to place a private structure over public property. Public property cannot be used for private use without the public being fairly compensated.
"No boat or other water craft exceeding twelve feet (12') in width or twenty-six feet (26')in length\, shall be allowed on the Lake at any time\, with the exception of a "work barge" with a valid permit.
Our office is located on the East side of the square in Mount Vernon at 112 N. Houston St.
No. Tap water around the lake area is handled through Cypress Springs Special Utility District. Their phone number is 903-588-2081.
No, we only take checks, cash or money orders. If you wish to make a park reservation you can do so on this website using your debit/credit card or paypal account.
Yes we are, our office hours are Monday – Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Permit forms and packets are available in our office or you can download them from the Forms & Documents section section of our website and print out a copy.