A long-running dispute over the proposed Marvin Nichols Reservoir in Northeast Texas tops the agenda Thursday for the Texas Water Development Board in Austin.
Dallas-Fort Worth’s Region C Water Planning Region and East Texas’ Region D will each have 10 minutes before the three-member panel.
Jim Thompson, chief financial officer for Ward Timber Co., in Atlanta, Texas, will speak on behalf of Region D. The board is deciding whether Marvin Nichols should be allowed to stay in Region D’s 2011 water plan.
The Texas Water Development Board is responsible for writing the state water plan. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality issues permits for new projects. Typically, it's the TCEQ that evaluates the possible merits and damages caused by new development. But what happens when the Texas Water Development Board's planning regions can't agree? Does the TWDB then shift into a mode of evaluating harm and benefits? Board spokesman Andy Saenz says that the role of the board is, well, fluid. The Texas Legislature might continue to tweak the process in the upcoming session.
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.
Last year, Texas voters approved the allocation of $2 billion from the state’s rainy day fund to pay for water projects. Proposition 6 won fairly handily, but many from both the left and the right sides of the political spectrum had concerns about the new water fund. Transparency and accountability were mentioned. And even supporters of the measure cautioned against over-investing in certain types of projects.
Van Zandt county retired businessman Bob Hall rode a wave of Tea Party support to defeat longtime state Senator Bob Deuell in a Republican Party primary runoff last month. Having won the GOP nomination, Hall is considered a safe bet to win the general election in November.
The fate of the Marvin Nichols Reservoir proposal - at least insofar as it figures into the Texas Water Development Board's plans - now lies in the hands of that agency's three-person governing body, consisting of chairman Carlos Rubinstein, Bech Bruun and Kathleen Jackson.
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.
It’s going to be a busy week for the Marvin Nichols Reservoir proposal. The Texas Water Development Board is in the process of resolving a conflict between two regional planning groups over the idea. The Northeast Texas group doesn’t want there to be a new, 70,000 acre lake along the Sulphur River north of Mount Pleasant. The North Texas group is in favor of the proposal.
In Mount Pleasant on Apr. 29, over 400 people attended an Apr. 29 public forum on Marvin Nichols Reservoir proposal hosted by the Texas Water Development Board.
The Texas Water Development Board’s public comment period on the Marvin Nichols Reservoir proposal continues through 5 p.m. Friday. The agency is receiving written comment by email (RegionCandD@twdb.texas.gov) and mail (Office of General Counsel, Attn: Connie Sanders, 1700 North Congress Avenue, Austin, Texas 78701).
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.