Preserve Northeast Texas
Stop The Marvin Nichols Reservoir
Water providers in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex area are predicting a strain on the region’s future water supply. Yet, rather than look to conservation and resources in their own community to meet growing water needs, the region has decided the solution is to flood 66,000 acres of private land in Northeast Texas to build a reservoir, with the water pumped to the DFW Metroplex.
The Marvin Nichols Reservoir, proposed on the main stem of the Sulphur River in Red River, Titus, and Franklin Counties, would flood 66,000 acres of heritage farmland, hardwood forest, and wetlands. The impacts will be felt across the entire region. An estimated 130,000 additional acres would be removed from private land ownership for mitigation required by the federal government.
The projected cost of the project is an astonishing $4.4 billion and expected to climb higher. At least 80% of the water would be piped to DFW. This project would force property owners off thousands of acres of family lands, drown resources that would devastate the timber and agriculture-based economy in the region, negatively impact wildlife habitat and inundate archaeological and historic sites and cemeteries.
While Northeast Texas has a healthy and skilled workforce, work on the reservoir is expected to be largely done by out-of-town labor. What’s more, 80% of the water from the reservoir would be piped to the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex to water lawns and fill private swimming pools, rather than being available for local use.
Frequently Asked Questions
If built, the proposed Marvin Nichols Reservoir would create a dam and reservoir on the main stem of the Sulphur River in Red River, Titus, and Franklin Counties, flooding 66,000 acres of heritage farm and ranch land, hardwood forest, and wetlands. An estimated 130,000 additional acres would be removed from private land ownership for mitigation required by the federal government. Ultimately, an estimated 200,000 acres will be removed from private land ownership in Northeast Texas if the Marvin Nichols Reservoir is built. The impacts will be felt across the entire region.
It is no secret Texas’ population has been growing. Some estimates show that by 2036, our state’s 200th birthday, Texas will have 10 million more people. Many of those new residents are flocking to urban areas, putting a strain on municipalities to provide for the growing needs of their communities. At some point in the future, the Dallas Fort-Worth Metroplex will need more water. Yet, rather than look to conservation and resources in their own community to meet growing water needs, the region has decided the solution is to flood 66,000 acres of private land in Northeast Texas to build a reservoir, with the water pumped back to the DFW Metroplex.
Proponents of Marvin Nichols Reservoir won’t say how soon they plan to move on building it. Work on the reservoir could begin in the next few years, using largely out-of-town labor to pipe our water to the DFW Metroplex. Just because you may not have heard much about the reservoir lately does not mean it is has gone away. It is very much still an issue and gaining momentum. Region C (DFW Metroplex) keeps moving up the timeline, and supporters are stepping up their efforts.
The conflict has been going on for decades. The Texas legislature approved a resolution to name a proposed dam and reservoir on the Sulphur River the Marvin C. Nichols Dam and Reservoir. The Reservoir has been a potential project for future water supply since the amended Texas Water Plan of 1984. The DFW region began a serious push for the reservoir in 2001, sparking enormous opposition from Northeast Texas landowners, business people, and residents.
At least 80% of the water would be piped to the Dallas-Fort Worth area. But even residents of the Metroplex would have negative impacts – in particular an added cost to DFW residents to the tune of $4.4 billion in increased water rates. The companies working on the project would be the primary ones to benefit, with, for example, engineering contracts totaling well over one billion dollars.
This project would negatively impact residents of Northeast Texas, as well as local wildlife and their habitat. The project would capture thousands of acres of heritage family lands, drown resources that would devastate the timber and agriculture-based economy in the region, and inundate archaeological and historic sites and cemeteries. Thousands of Texans would be forced to sell their land, move from their homes and watch generations of memories drown under a reservoir.
Damage to the Timber Industry: The timber industry is one of the biggest economic drivers in Northeast Texas, supplying vast amounts of pulpwood and lumber to numerous manufacturers in the area, who in turn provide employment and produce paper, lumber and building materials that are utilized extensively in Texas, across the country and the globe. The effect on the timber industry would be devastating not just to the eastern part of the region, but would have a ripple effect outside the bounds of our state.
Loss of Local Jobs: Local jobs would significantly decline, and many would be lost as the result of natural resources being destroyed. The reservoir would be built at a huge negative social cost to the region, as many people would uproot and move to find new work. Proponents of the proposed reservoir argue the project will bring jobs and labor to Northeast Texas; but much of the design and construction would be done by contractors from outside the area, and the remainder of the jobs will be temporary. Any new jobs potentially generated from recreational use of the reservoir would be trivial compared to the current jobs and revenues from the 200,000 acres that would be taken out of production.
Negative Impact on Our Community: The private land lost to the proposed Marvin Nichols Reservoir would negatively impact local tax bases and jeopardize funding for local schools and communities. While much of Texas is growing, our region is not. We have lost population in recent years while other areas of the state are booming. If we lose 200,000 acres of private land, we will lose the friends and neighbors who call those acres home.
Loss of Land, Private Property, and Resources: Generations of families who call our region home — some of whom have had this land in their families since the 1800s — will be forced from their land if this project moves forward. They will be forced to sell their homes and move elsewhere. If they choose not to sell, their lands will be condemned under eminent domain. If they move from here, they won’t be investing in our banks, shopping at our grocery stores or worshiping in our churches. Their loss will be our community’s loss.
Further Loss of Accessible Land: An estimated 130,000 additional acres would be removed from private land ownership to mitigate impacts on wetlands and wildlife habitat, as required by the federal government. Overall, it is estimated that at least 200,000 acres will be taken out of private land ownership in Northeast Texas if the Marvin Nichols Reservoir is built.
Wildlife Loss: Over half of the land to be taken is bottomland hardwood forest or other forested wetlands and upland forest. Not only does this hit us in the pocketbook, but our wildlife habitat, hunting, and natural beauty will also suffer significant loss.
It is Costly: The estimated cost of the project is an astonishing $4.4 billion and expected to climb higher.
It is Wasteful: The proposed Marvin Nichols Reservoir would be wasteful, as Dallas-Fort Worth is not in urgent need of additional water supply. If they need more water in future decades, there are cheaper, less destructive ways to obtain water supply than building a huge new reservoir. Purifying treated wastewater can be less expensive than building a new reservoir, it avoids damming a river and flooding private land, and it’s “drought-proof” – the source of water is always there.
If Dallas-Fort Worth needs additional water, they should start by tapping what they have. Through municipal water reuse/recycling, conservation and capturing storm water, the region could make major strides in maximizing the water supply they already have.
There are untapped water sources that are cheaper and less environmentally damaging than this reservoir, which is the costliest water supply project being proposed in Texas. Water usage reports say that the DFW Metroplex has sufficient resources for household and business needs – our water would be used primarily to water their lawns and fill their swimming pools.
Loss of Manufacturing Capacity: Reducing the watershed of the Sulphur River Basin would negatively impact existing manufacturing operations and make it difficult to attract new industry to the region. A lack of sufficient water would adversely impact our tax base, funding for our schools and our quality of life.
No. There will be no public vote on the project. However, Northeast Texans can take action to oppose the project.
For decades, our state has been divided less by Republican vs. Democrat than by urban-suburban vs. rural. The proposed reservoir brings that fight to our front door. Our resources and our voice in rural Texas are just as important as those in the DFW Metroplex. We cannot let the “Big City” strong-arm us on this issue or any other. Preserve Northeast Texas is fighting to Stop Marvin Nichols and protect the region from one of the biggest transfers of private land to public in modern history. Northeast Texas is a special place. Our community comes together when someone is in need. Now we need to come together and fight to Stop Marvin Nichols.
Here is how you can help:
Over half of the land to be taken is bottomland hardwood forest or other forested wetlands and upland forest. Not only does this hurt us in the pocketbook, but our wildlife habitat and natural beauty will suffer significant loss.
At least 80 percent of the water produced by the proposed reservoir would be piped to the DFW Metroplex.
The proposed reservoir would permanently flood more than 66,000 acres of private land in Northeast Texas, with an estimated 130,000 additional acres taken to mitigate wetlands and other wildlife habitat losses.
since the 1800s.