Richard LeTourneau: It’s not a tradeoff; It’s a coup

Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines a tradeoff as “a giving up of one thing in return for another.” A recent guest editorial in this paper, taken from the Fort Worth Star Telegram, summarized its support for the proposed Marvin Nichols Reservoir by saying “tradeoffs are necessary.”

But it isn’t a “tradeoff” when DFW is getting the water from the reservoir while the people of Northeast Texas, where it would be built, are getting nothing – nothing, that is, but economic, environmental, and cultural wreckage. They’ll be forced to sell family lands, suffer the economic impact of 200,000 acres taken out of production and off the tax rolls, and watch their homes disappear under water.

The guest editorial says “conservation isn’t enough” to meet DFW’s future water needs, but if the Metroplex brought its per capita water use to levels other Texas cities have attained, conservation would be enough.

It also fails to mention other viable alternatives to building Marvin Nichols. Enough water could be generated by increasing the amount of municipal water reuse/recycling in the region. It makes no mention of leveraging existing sources like Lake Texoma, or bringing water from Toledo Bend Reservoir, which yields five times as much water as Marvin Nichols would produce. The damage from those two lakes was done decades ago – now DFW is proposing more.

If Marvin Nichols Reservoir is built, it will be Texas’ largest transfer of land from private hands to public in decades – 66,000 acres for the reservoir plus an estimated 130,000 acres for “mitigation”, to compensate for lost wetlands and wildlife habitat. DFW will have the power of eminent domain to force this land transfer on the people of Northeast Texas. The editorial pointed out that the people impacted have had opportunities to weigh in. That’s true. And they’ve consistently and vociferously said that they don’t want DFW to force a reservoir on them.

The good news is that Marvin Nichols Reservoir is not a done deal. The Texas Water Development Board planning process occurs in five-year cycles, giving planners an opportunity to course-correct where necessary. Removing Marvin Nichols from the State Water Plan is an important course correction that needs to occur. The Metroplex can turn to other options for water supply.

Because Marvin Nichols is not a tradeoff. It’s a coup. And the Marshall News Messenger should be making that point on its editorial page.

COLUMN | Preserve Northeast Texas — stop Marvin Nichols Reservoir project

As a fourth generation East Texan, a property owner, a businessman, a father, an Eagle Scout, and as Mayor of my hometown of Atlanta, Texas – not to mention a lifelong advocate for private property rights and personal responsibility- the proposed Marvin Nichols Reservoir flies in the face of all I hold dear. And while my ancestral homestead is not in the proposed taking, it is heritage farmland; and only a matter of time before big cities and big spenders swiftly run through whatever resources they are able to procure from us now, only to come back for more later. That’s why there’s never been a more crucial time to support the Preserve Northeast Texas effort and stop the Marvin Nichols Reservoir.

Understandably, this issue has been on the back burner in recent history; to the point that some may not realize it is still a threat. Let me assure you, our neighbors to the west have not taken their eye off our land in the 20 years since it was first proposed. In fact, they’ve hastened their efforts, shifting the proposal from simply an idea to a solid piece of the State’s Water Plan. You see, urban and suburban communities don’t know what it means to scrimp and save, to conserve and preserve. We here in rural northeast Texas are used to making our own way, pulling up our bootstraps, planning for the future, providing for ourselves, and looking out for each other.

As a fourth generation East Texan with farmland that has been in my family for more than 100 years, I know the generations of pride and heritage that have preserved and maintained so much of region’s landscape. The land in the proposed reservoir and surrounding floodplain is where our friends and neighbors, live, where many of us sustain our livelihoods, and where our families are buried. We cannot let Dallas-Fort Worth trample on our rights and our land.

As a businessman and lifelong resident of this community, I cannot abide the economic loss this proposed reservoir brings with it, because it’s not just water that will be shipped to the metroplex, it is jobs and more. Generations of families who call our region home could be forced from their land and if they move from here, they won’t be investing in our banks, shopping at our grocery stores, or worshipping in our churches. Their loss will be our community’s and our economy’s loss.

As a father and an Eagle Scout, I have a lifelong love of nature and the unique beauty of our region’s outdoor spaces. A love I want to pass along to my children. Over half of the land to be taken for the proposed reservoir is bottomland hardwood forest, forested wetlands, and upland forests. Not only would this project hit us in the pocketbook and our own backyards, but our wildlife habitat and natural beauty would suffer significant loss. Our trees and the many species of wildlife that call them home could be displaced, destroyed, and endangered.

Finally, as a local elected official and municipal leader, I don’t like how the proposed reservoir would negatively impact our local tax base and jeopardize funding for our schools and communities. While much of Texas is growing, sadly, our region is not. We have lost population in recent years while other areas are booming. If we were to lose 200,000 acres of private land, we would lose residents who call those acres home. As caretakers of the public trust, it is my responsibility – and that of my counterparts across our region – to protect our community from outside forces who would damage our economy, our environment, our land, and our future.

As Texans we need to be innovators – that means innovation in our conservation and reuse too. Just as we here in Northeast Texas have been good stewards of our land, our neighbors to the west should look to ways they can steward what they already have. Northeast Texas is a special place. It’s a place where our community comes together when someone is in need. My family and I experienced that firsthand over the past 8 months as I was called to active duty in Afghanistan with the U.S. Army Reserves. The outpouring of love and support to my wife and kids was astounding. Our collective love and support for our region, our community, our economy, our land, and our resources should be no less important. Now is the time to come together and fight to stop Marvin Nichols.

The Hon. Travis Ransom, Mayor is mayor of Atlanta, Texas

Preserve Northeast Texas fights to stop proposed Marvin Nichols Reservoir

TEXARKANA, Texas – It’s a fight that’s been brewing for decades, the controversy over proposed Marvin Nichols Reservoir.

The proposed reservoir would be built on the Sulphur River in parts of Red River and Titus counties about 45 miles from Texarkana. It’s designated as a water supply for the Dallas area.

Over the last few years, headlines over the Marvin Nichols Reservoir faded out of the spotlight, but the proposition is now gaining new momentum. Proponents of the reservoir are moving the target date for constructing the lake from 2070 to 2050.

That’s why a group called, Preserve Northeast Texas, is joining forces again to stop the project.

“They’re not just stealing from this generation. They’re stealing from your children, your grandchildren, your great-grandchildren,” explained a landowner attending a meeting about the proposed reservoir.

The reservoir is estimated to cost about $4 billion. It would permanently flood around 66,000 acres in east Texas and pump about 80% of water from the Sulphur River to the DFW metroplex.

Opponents of the plan say it would impact thousands of acres of heritage farmland and harm wildlife and wetlands.

Linda Price, who works for Ward Timber, said it would also be devastating on the economy.

“We get a lot of our hardwood in the basin, and so if you take that out of the market. You will have to go further out to get your timber, which will increase the cost and then increase the price,” said Price.

While the proposed reservoir would be located in the piney woods of east Texas, Price said it would only benefit urban areas in northeast Texas.

“I don’t feel like the metroplex should be the one who is going to control what our economy and our industry is,” said Price.

Nancy Clements, a second generation tree farmer in Douglasville, said, “It concerns me big time because I could lose all of my land to mitigation or some of it.”

Clements said it’s hard to make plans with the project looming over her family. The cost of replanting is expensive,especially not knowing if the land will be taken from them or not.

“That is my retirement and my children’s inheritance and their retirement. It’s not right to lose that,” said Clements.

Bonnie Wright is also fighting the project. Her family has owned land in Douglasville since 1976.

“We’ve got to fight them to try and keep our water and our lands, our home places. We’ve got to stand together and try to get it stopped,” said Wright.

According to the Texas Water Development Board, the state’s population is expected to explode by 73% over the next 50 years.

DFW officials said that conservation efforts and improved water reuse projects will not reduce demand enough to eliminate the need for a new reservoir.

Marvin Nichols Reservoir Proposal: A Plan Is Not A Permit

Today’s broadcast of North By Northeast focuses on the Marvin Nichols Reservoir proposal, which would place a massive reservoir along the Sulphur River, mostly in Red River and Titus counties. Our guest this morning is Janice Bezanson of the Texas Conservation Alliance.

Editorial: Proposed reservoir should be last option to satisfy Dallas area’s thirst for water

It’s not a matter of if, but when, a victor will emerge in the state’s water war.

For some Northeast Texans, the stakes in this conflict are incredibly high — thousands of acres of land removed from private property, jobs in numerous industries threatened, devastation of a wildlife habitat.

Opponents of the Marvin Nichols Reservoir say those are some of the consequences if the Dallas-Fort Worth region successfully adds the project to the state’s long-term water plan.

Marvin Nichols would be built on the main stem of the Sulphur River in Red River and Titus counties, with 80% of its water pumped to the Dallas-Fort Worth area — known as Region C.

The reservoir has been in discussions since the 1980s, but serious back and forth between Region C and officials in Northeast Texas, sometimes contentious, has been ongoing for 20 years.

Water planners and others in Northeast Texas — known as Region D — have a long list of reasons why Marvin Nichols should be washed down the drain, including an estimated 200,000 acres of private property seized for the project.

Meanwhile, Region C officials say the booming population growth in the Dallas-Fort Worth area has created a dire need for a new water source.

A newly formed coalition of land owners, business owners, local elected officials and others, called Preserve Northeast Texas, is pushing back against Region C’s plan.

Along with citing the loss of land and jobs as well as the impact on wildlife, Preserve Northeast Texas also argues that the Marvin Nichols project — which would cost billions of dollars — isn’t necessary at this point because “Dallas-Fort Worth is not in urgent need of additional water supply,” according to the group’s website.

“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,” the group says.

We agree that all possible options should be explored and studied before this massive project is approved because the cost is just too high — not only in dollars but in the lives of the Northeast Texans who have deep roots in the land targeted for the reservoir.

Those options include reuse-recycling and conservation efforts to maximum Region C’s current water supply. Preserve Northeast Texas also recommends an initiative that would purify treated wastewater for household use.

When all is said and done, the decision on whether the reservoir moves forward likely will not be one made by folks on either side of the issue but by state officials based on what they believe is best for Texas.

A business-friendly attitude, lack of personal income tax, low housing costs and many other reasons make our state attractive, and folks are unlikely to stop coming here anytime soon. And they’re mostly flooding urban areas, such as Dallas-Fort Worth.

Our state must have a viable solution to the growing thirst for water — that problem isn’t going away.

We would urge the people involved in the Marvin Nichols discussions to diligently and thoroughly study the alternatives previously mentioned and any others that might be available.

The reservoir project should only be approved when all other options have been exhausted.

For information on Preserve Northeast Texas, go to .

Editorial: Proposed reservoir should be last option to satisfy Dallas area’s thirst for water | Editorials |


New Northeast Texas coalition aims to stop Marvin Nichols Reservoir project

A new Northeast Texas coalition is “pushing back” in a fight brewing for decades over a proposed reservoir that would feed the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

The group Preserve Northeast Texas says the long-talked about Marvin Nichols Reservoir on the main stem of the Sulphur River in Red River and Titus counties would impact thousands of acres of land, harm wildlife and hurt the region economically.

The reservoir would flood 66,000 acres of heritage farm and ranch land, hardwood forest and wetlands while an estimated 130,000 additional acres would be removed from private land ownership for mitigation required by the federal government, according to Preserve Northeast Texas.

“Ultimately, an estimated 200,000 acres will be removed from private land ownership in Northeast Texas if the Marvin Nichols Reservoir is built,” the group said. “The impacts will be felt across the entire region.”

The reservoir has been a potential project for future water supply since the Texas Water Plan of 1984, and Dallas-Forth Worth water planners began a serious push for the reservoir in 2001, according to Preserve Northeast Texas.

Proponents of the reservoir have moved the target date for construction from 2070 to 2050, and officials in the Dallas-Fort Worth area want to include Marvin Nichols in the2022 state water plan.

“We don’t think it’s right that people with money can just come in and push people off their land when they have other choices,” said Gary Cheatwood, a member of the Preserve Northeast Texas steering committee.

He said he will turn 83 this year, and that is how long he has lived in Red River County on land his grandfather bought 100 years ago.

The reservoir also would cause the loss of thousands of jobs in the timber, salt mill, paper mill and cattle industries, Cheatwood said.

During a July 2020 hearing, Kevin Ward, the general manager of the Trinity River Authority and chairman of the water planning board for the Dallas-Fort Worth area, said the group has pushed up the Marvin Nichols Reservoir because of population changes that have occurred in the area since the last state water plan.

“The new drought of record for the Sulphur River basin, combined with unfavorable review of the Wright Patman (Lake) strategy by the (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers), led the project sponsors to the decision to put the Marvin Nichols strategy in 2050,” Ward said at the July hearing.

Preserve Northeast Texas said the Dallas-Fort Worth region has alternatives to the proposed reservoir.

“Rather than looking to viable solutions through conservation efforts and existing reservoirs, the Metroplex has chosen to propose yet another reservoir to meet their water demands,” the group said.

Cheatwood said water planners in Northeast Texas and the Dallas-Fort Worth area agreed earlier that “they would not talk about Marvin Nichols until 2070, and now they keep pushing the timeline up. And we’re pushing back. We think we have the right to do it. 

“They may eventually run over us, but we’re not going to quit,” he said. “We love this place, and we don’t have a place to go.”

For information, go to .

Controversy over proposed Marvin Nichols Reservoir again

TEXARKANA, Texas – The Marvin Nichols Reservoir is stirring up controversy again between north and east Texas.

Proponents of the reservoir are now moving the target date for constructing the lake from 2070 to 2050. Region C wants to include construction of Marvin Nichols by 2050 in its draft for the 2022 state water plan.

The proposed reservoir would be built on the Sulphur River in parts of Red River, Titus and Bowie counties. It’s designated as a water supply for the Dallas area.

The reservoir would permanently flood around 66,000 acres in Region D and provide 80% of water from the Sulphur River to Region C.

Janice Bezanson with the Texas Conservation Alliance is working to bring awareness to how water sharing would have a negative impact on northeast Texas

“It would be bad economically because it would have an impact on the timber and agriculture industries, but it would also be very hard on people. Thousands of people would be forced to sell their land. They would have no choice, if they didn’t want to sell it, it would be condemned under imminent domain,” Bezanson said.

Bezanson believes proponents of the reservoir should pursue other options.

“First of all there’s a lot they can do with conservation. They’re still basing their projected demand on rather high per capita, per person water use. They can also do what’s called reuse or recycling of water,” said Bezanson.

The Dallas-Fort Worth population is expected to double by 2070 to nearly 15 million. The estimated price tag to build the reservoir is $4.4 billion.

A public forum to promote awareness about plans for the Marvin Nichols Reservoir will be held June 15 from at 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the Queen City Funeral Home.

For more information go to 

Controversy over proposed Marvin Nichols Reservoir again | Texarkana |