Texas Water Development Board Executive Administrator Kevin Patteson is standing by his decision to support the Marvin Nichols Reservoir proposal. Patteson's recommendation to the agency's board included some revisions to the draft published in March, but kept its central message.
Now, it's up to the three-person governing body of the agency to determine whether the project will be included in the state's water plans. That decision is expected some time this summer, according to Texas Water Development Board staff.
The proposed Marvin Nichols Reservoir would flood over 70,000 acres in the Sulphur River Basin, mostly in Red River County, north of Mount Pleasant. Most of the water drawn from the reservoir would be used by municipal water authorities in the Dallas area.
On March 4, the agency published Patteson's preliminary recommendation to the three-member governing board. That draft also advocated for the project's inclusion.
The final recommendation published today was revised to reflect a more nuanced support for the project, as a result of "review and consideration of the extensive input received during the public commenting process, which included public hearings in both regions," according to an agency statement.
The Texas Water Development Board is resolving a conflict between two of its regional planning groups over the proposal. The Region C group, which incudes the North Texas region, included Marvin Nichols Reservoir in its plans. The Northeast Texas group, Region D, did not. Region D includes the proposed reservoir's site.
Today's recommendation suggested the board "(instruct) Region C to make Marvin Nichols Reservoir an alternative strategy and elevate consideration of other water sources."
The document also suggests "encouraging Region C to share mitigation measures in proportion to the interests Region C water providers have in the project." In this context, mitigation refers to the land taken out of agricultural production to mitigate the environmental impact of flooding lands for a new reservoir. This provision, a requirement of federal law, typically mandates that a set amount of acres of land ecologically equivalent to the inundated acres be removed from production. Opponents of the project had protested possible loss of land in Northeast Texas to help facilitate the delivery of municipal water to the Dallas area.
The revised recommendation also removed a contentious provision in the draft that stated the matter of Marvin Nichols' inclusion should not be raised again in creation of future regional water plans.
Opponents of the project dominated a well-attended public forum on the topic held April 29 in Mount Pleasant and a less-well-attended forum April 30 in Arlington.