Dramatic moments in public water policy planning aren’t too common. But there actually was such a moment in Texas water policy last week. It involved the proposed Marvin Nichols Reservoir, which if built, would flood about 70,000 acres north of Mount Pleasant.
Supporters of the proposed Marvin Nichols Reservoir encountered a speed bump in Austin this morning, while opponents of the project welcomed a delay of the Texas Water Development Board's final recommendation.
If the proposed Marvin Nichols reservoir is built along the Sulphur River, then not only would some land need to be flooded, but comparable lands must also be set aside to mitigate the environmental damage caused by flooding about 70,000 acres of bottomland hardwood forest.
Since the Dallas area would receive most of the water delivered by the new lake, it's been suggested that the Dallas area - represented in the state water system by Region C - provide a share of the "mitigated" land that's proportional to the region's water use.
Walt Sears of the Northeast Texas Municipal Water District considers raising water levels at Wright Patman Lake, along with using existing water at Toledo Bend Reservoir, a "viable option" for meeting the Dallas area's future water needs without building the proposed Marvin Nichols Reservior.
The Texas Water Development Board has announced the two public hearings during which the agency will receive public comment on the proposed Marvin Nichols Reservoir.
A hearing will be held at 2 p.m. Tue., April 29 in Mount Pleasant at the Mount Pleasant Civic Center, 1800 North Jefferson St. Another hearing will be held at 2 p.m. Wed., April 30 in Arlington at the Bob Duncan Center, 2800 S. Center St. At both hearings, oral and written comments will be accepted.
The three-person governing body of the Texas Water Development Board is now fully staffed. Gov. Rick Perry has appointed Kathleen Thea Jackson of Beaumont to the Texas Water Development Board.
Jackson, a registered professional engineer, was most recently public affairs manager for Exxon Mobil Corp.
The board had been down to two members since January, when Weatherford natural gas entrepreneur Mary Ann Williamson resigned. The board chairman is Carlos Rubinstein. Bech Bruun also serves on the board.
After years of conflict, the fate of the controversial Marvin Nichols Reservoir proposal will be decided by the Texas Water Development Board's governing board in Austin. The decision could come while the three-person governing body is down to just two members.
The proposed Marvin Nichols Reservoir would flood 70,000 acres of bottom land, including hardwood forests that have been identified by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as "high value" habitat. A report published last week by Austin-based Environment Texas opposes the project, which it says would harm Northeast Texas so as to supply water for Dallas - a city with comparatively poor water conservation practices.