Gov. Abbott sends words of hope to those opposed to Marvin Nichols

By News Staff

Mount Pleasant Tribune, February 25, 2023

Will DFW’s thirst flood the ‘Texas rainforest’? Inside the fight over Marvin Nichols Reservoir

By Jess Hardin

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram, February 10, 2022

After parking his white Ford pickup truck in a pasture of knee-high grass, Jim Marshall trudges toward it: a post oak tree with branches so long they bend toward the ground and nearly meet the grass on either side.

Marshall shields his eyes from the afternoon sun and stops under the tree’s shade. He points to a hefty bough cradling a nest as big as an armchair. A family of bald eagles made its home here, in the middle of Marshall’s 917 acres.

He bends down and picks up an eagle feather.

Even though his 7-year-old granddaughter collects feathers, he doesn’t pocket it. It is illegal to possess or use the parts of the federally protected eagles.

If water planners in Dallas-Fort Worth get their wish, this massive oak will wither into skeletal driftwood in the middle of Marvin Nichols Lake.

Since the turn of the century, DFW water planners have been clear: North Texans are going to need a lot of water in the coming decades, and one way to get it is by building a reservoir about 150 miles away.

The project’s would-be sponsors — North Texas Municipal Water District, Tarrant Regional Water District and Upper Trinity Water Regional Water District — point to DFW’s explosive growth when explaining the need for Marvin Nichols.

“We’ve got 55,000 people moving to our service area every year. That equates to a nice-sized city. None of them are bringing their own water,” said Wayne Larson, director of communications at North Texas Municipal Water District.

Texas is split into 16 water regions. Each is required to devise a plan to meet its evolving water needs every five years. By 2070, the population of Region C, which includes Dallas-Fort Worth, is expected to surpass 14.6 million, according to the region’s 2021 water plan.

The water plan projects that, with current water supply, the region will have a shortage of more than 423 billion gallons per year by 2070.

Read the full article here.

Letters to the Editor — Water for a fake lagoon…

By Letters to the Editor

The Dallas Morning News, February 4, 2022

Water for a fake lagoon

Re: “’Ready to get it going’ — Anna lagoon may open this year, developer says,” Tuesday Metro & Business story.

I read with interest this story about the lagoon project in Anna. The story mentioned several other lagoon projects proposed for or under way for the area.

Did you know that there are 326,000 gallons in an acre foot of water? That is, an acre in an area one foot deep. I used a depth of 3 feet, though I can guess the new lagoon will be deeper, to calculate that the Anna lagoon would hold 2,249,400 gallons of treated water.

The rate of evaporation in the Texas summer would require a constant source to keep it replenished. Where would this water, and the fresh water in all the other lagoons in the area, come from?

This takes us to the controversy surrounding the Marvin Nichols reservoir in Northeast Texas. To quote an article from station KETR-FM (88.9): “The Marvin Nichols Reservoir remains a theoretical project that its proponents believe will solve the Dallas-Fort Worth’s water problems for what they hope would be forever. The lake being pitched … would deprive the timber industry that is vital to the economic well-being of many communities throughout the region.”

So, we will decimate a community and its economy so that folks can play in a fake lagoon.

Martha McSweeney, Larue

Texas’ plan to provide water for a growing population virtually ignores climate change

Texas’ biggest single solution to providing enough water for its soaring population in the coming decades is using more surface water, including about two dozen new large reservoirs. But climate change has made damming rivers a riskier bet.

Red River County residents view a hand-drawn map of the proposed Marvin Nichols Reservoir at Cuthand United Methodist Church. Twenty-three new large reservoirs are expected to be built in Texas over the next five decades, according to the Texas Water Development Board. Credit: Ben Torres for The Texas Tribune

Proposed reservoir “divided” a rural Northeast Texas community

The water “going to Arkansas for free”

The South Texas town “still paying the price” for a reservoir

Northeast Texan fights against Marvin Nichols Reservoir Project

BOGATA — The proposed Marvin Nichols Reservoir Project continues to be a hot topic in Northeast Texas. This proposal would clear farmland in the area and flood the Sulphur River to create the reservoir.

Experts say the Dallas/Fort Worth area needs five new reservoirs to sustain all the growth. Northeast Texas is being looked at to help feed this development.

One landowner near the river says this project will take away the land his family has owned for seven generations.

Read more from our news partners at CBS19.

Northeast Texan fights against Marvin Nichols Reservoir Project

Landowner Eddie Belcher said his great great grandfather was the first to settle on their family land back in the 1920s.

BOGATA, Texas — The proposed Marvin Nichols Reservoir Project continues to be a hot topic in Northeast Texas. This proposal would clear farmland in the area and flood the Sulphur River to create the reservoir.

Experts say the Dallas/Fort Worth area needs five new reservoirs to sustain all the growth. Northeast Texas is being looked at to help feed this development.

One landowner near the river says this project will take away the land his family has owned for seven generations.

Eddie Belcher owns 718 acres located just north of the Sulphur River. His land is only about half a mile north of the river. Putting him right in the path of proposed flood zone.

“I have two older brothers and two younger sisters,” said Belcher. “This is where we grew up.”

Belcher said his great great grandfather was the first one to settle in the area back in the 1920s.

“We spent all our lives right here,” said Belcher. “I would like to give it to my children and my grandkids.”

Belcher uses his family land to raise cattle, grow hay and hunt. Every time he drives through on his ATV, he remembers many cherished memories.

On the property is a house his grandpa lived in before electricity was available. Belcher has added multiple adjustments to the house from its original structure.

Also on the land are Native American traces and remains. Belcher has had living mounds, pottery, arrowheads, tomahawks and a burial ground identified. Among the woods are bent trees that Native Americans would use as markers.

With the state of Texas proposing to flood the Sulphur River, which might potentially flood Belcher’s land, he said his relationship with the area has only grown.

“It’s become more dear,” said Belcher. “Thinking I could lose something like this and the ecosystem. Not only does my family, but lots and lots of other families come out here to catch fish.”

After sharing the history of his land, Belcher said he will continue to fight against Marvin Nichols alongside other families near the river.

“I just wish Dallas/Fort Worth knew the real value of land,” said Belcher. “It’s not about what it’s really worth. I’m 61 years old. I grew up here.”

Belcher said he has heard from the state of Texas and they’ve offered him market price for his land if the reservoir project goes through. If he refused, then the state could use eminent domain.

Mount Pleasant crowd hears presentations opposing Marvin Nichols Reservoir plan

by Andrew Bell | October 13, 2022 at 10:00 p.m.

MOUNT PLEASANT, Texas — A crowd of about 50 people were debriefed earlier this week on the Marvin Nichols Reservoir and the potential effects it could have on the region if it comes to fruition.

On Monday evening, leaders from the Preserve Northeast Texas group gave presentations about the negative impact the proposed reservoir water project would have on Northeast Texas if it is allowed to proceed in the state water plan.

Janice Bezanson, senior policy director for Texas Conservation Alliance, and Jim Thompson, chairman of North East Texas Regional Water Planning Group, spoke at the event.

Bezanson said her and Thompson’s main talking points included discussion of private property rights, possible conservation tactics to eliminate the need for the reservoir and the importance of timber to Northeast Texas.

(click here to view story)


Wed, 10/12/2022 – 5:00am

A town hall style meeting was held Monday night, October 10, at the Mount Pleasant Civic Center for all of those who oppose the construction of the proposed Marvin Nichols Reservoir, and those seeking more information on the project.Hosted by Preserve Northeast Texas, the Stop Marvin Nichols meeting’s purpose was …

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Northeast Texans revamp decades-old fight over proposed reservoir that would benefit D-FW

By Lana Ferguson
The Dallas Mornng News, October 12, 2022

‘My roots are here and I do not wish to give up my property, heritage, and homestead and look for that elsewhere,’ one stakeholder said.

Gary Cheatwood, almost 84, has spent nearly half his life worried about a yet-to-be-built human-made lake that would destroy everything important to him.

His family’s century-old home bulldozed.

Virgin timber they’ve watched grow demolished.

His elders’ graves washed up.

The threat of the 66,000-acre Marvin Nichols Reservoir has loomed for decades.

He and other Northeast Texans have been fighting the project that would push them out of their homes, some of which were built before Texas was annexed into the U.S., since it was first proposed in 1984.

The planned site along the Sulphur River in Red River, Bowie, Titus, and Franklin counties would pump water 150 miles away to the Dallas-Fort Worth region, part of the Texas Water Development Board’s plan to supply water to the quickly growing population.

“This is something you never forget about because you don’t know what the future will be,” Cheatwood said.

The reservoir has been at a standstill for decades, sometimes garnering momentum before being returned to the back burner as in the early 2000s. A recent renewed push to get shovels in dirt has reignited a call to action among stakeholders.

Read the full article at The Dallas Morning News

Northeast Texans fight against proposed Marvin Nichols Reservoir Project

The project aims to create the reservoir right in-between Titus and Red River Counties. Using the Sulphur River to help create it.

MOUNT PLEASANT, Texas — Experts say the Dallas/Fort Worth area needs five new reservoirs to sustain the metroplex’s growth.

In order to make a reservoir, a designated river is damned and floods cleared farmland.

Residents living in the current proposal are asking the DFW metroplex to find a different option in finding a new water source.

The proposal is being called the Marvin Nichols Reservoir Project.

That’s why Northeast Texans gathered Monday night to talk about continuing the prevention of the reservoir from being built on their land.

“It was over 20 years ago that we found out that they were going to try to build a lake on our family land,” said Gary Cheatwood, a landowner on the proposed reservoir.

When looking at a map of the proposed reservoir Cheatwood’s land that his family has owned for generations in right in the heart of the flood zone.

The project aims to create the reservoir right in-between Titus and Red River Counties. Using the Sulphur River to help create it.

Many residents who attended the meeting are in Cheatwood’s shoes. Even businesses like the lumber industry.

“Taking 200,000 or 300,000 acres of timber producing properties out of production would dramatically impact us,” said Jim Thompson, the chief financial officer or Ward Timber.

Thompson said if this proposal is enacted it will impact the 125 direct employees they have along with drivers, contractors, and even a nearby paper mill company.

According to Janice Bezanson, the senior policy director for Texas Conservative Alliance, the demand for more water in the DFW area comes from residents watering their lawns. Not for business uses like restaurants or everyday home essentials.

“So we’re asking the people of Northeast Texas to give up their land, their livelihoods, and in many cases their homes so that people in the Dallas/Fort Worth area can water their lawns,” Bezanson said.

“I hear politicians and elected officials all the time say we’re going to stand up for private property rights,” Thompson said. “If you’re standing up for private property rights you will not be in support of this project.”

A project continuing to haunt families who’ve been fighting for their land for years.

“My dad showed me what we can do to help prevent this, and we’re showing the next generation what they can do to help prevent this,” Cheatwood said. “So we’re gonna keep battling as long as we can, and then our kids are too.”

Many residents and business owners in the path of the project say they have yet to hear how much the state would compensate them if they decided to move ahead.


The Texarkana Gazette: More than 2,000 petitioners oppose Marvin Nichols Reservoir

By Andy Bell

The Texarkana Gazette, October 4, 2022

NORTHEAST TEXAS — More Texans are expressing their opposition to a proposed water project that is estimated to cost at least $4.4 billion.

As of late September, more than 2,000 Texans have signed a petition to condemn the Marvin Nichols Reservoir project.

The petition was created by the grassroots organization Preserve Northeast Texas, a group of landowners, business owners, community leaders, conservationists and elected officials who have banded together to oppose Marvin Nichols.

“The proposed Marvin Nichols Reservoir would rob Northeast Texas of land, valuable jobs, and precious water, devastating the region’s economic vitality, heritage farmlands, and natural resources. I stand in opposition to this project and call on policymakers to put a stop to this costly, unnecessary and damaging project,” the petition states.

“It’s a clear statement from the people of Northeast Texas that this is not in our interests,” said Janice Bezanson, senior policy director for Texas Conservation Alliance. “We are opposed to this, and the entities of DFW (Dallas-Fort Worth) need to be looking at alternatives, of which there are numerous.”

The Marvin Nichols Reservoir is the costliest project in the Texas State Water Plan, estimated at $4.4 billion and growing. The reservoir would flood 66,000 of acres of hardwood forest, farms and ranches, and wetlands.

An estimated 130,000 additional acres would also be removed from private land ownership for environmental mitigation. This means an estimated 200,000 acres of Texas land would be taken out of production.

“Texas is growing, and water is a vital resource necessary for life and commerce,” said Bill Ward, president of Ward Timber Co. “That’s why the DFW Metroplex must do more to conserve and reuse this precious resource, rather than use eminent domain to take away the homes and heritage lands of fellow Texans. Reservoirs like the proposed Marvin Nichols project are an outdated solution to meet our water needs.”

The target date for construction completion on this project was moved forward in the State Water Plan last summer from 2070 to 2050.

Bezanson said the entities who agreed to build the reservoir also said it would probably take 30 years to get it permitted and built.

“Well if you do the math, 2050 is less than 30 years from now. So, we took that as the first signal that they’re going to be moving forward,” she said. “And the second signal was that they flatly refused to make any kind of agreement about when they would or wouldn’t start the permitting process.”

Bezanson said Preserve Northeast Texas is trying to educate people in the region about what’s going on with the project because it has been quite some years since it was talked about much.

“Some people thought it was dead, and it wasn’t on their radar screen. We’re getting it back on their radar screen,” she said.

She said the DFW metroplex can provide water for any shortages they may have through conservation and recycling tactics. Bezanson also noted that there are available reservoirs that have ample water in them that are not being used, referencing Lake Texoma and the Toledo Bend Reservoir as examples.

If you do a total cost benefit on this thing, rather than just how much we pay for building it, the impacts are so huge,” she said. “And the economic impacts have the potential to be so devastating to the Northeast Texas counties. This is not a good project for the state as a whole.”

To view the petition or learn more about the proposed reservoir, visit The group can also be found on Facebook and Instagram at @PreserveNortheastTexas and Twitter at @NoMarvinNichols.

Print Headline: More than 2,000 petitioners oppose Marvin Nichols Reservoir

Originally posted on The Texarkana Gazette.


Decades-old debate over proposed Marvin Nichols Reservoir has become part of Northeast Texas political landscape

KETR | By John Kanelis
Published October 3, 2022 at 12:38 PM CDT
The proposed reservoir remains in the state's long-term water plan, despite opposition from the Northeast Texas planning group.
Texas Water Development Board
The proposed reservoir remains in the state’s long-term water plan, despite opposition from the Northeast Texas planning group.

Many remain opposed to the project that would flood the Sulphur River valley north of Mount Pleasant.

The Marvin Nichols Reservoir remains a theoretical project that its proponents believe will solve the Dallas-Fort Worth’s water problems for what they hope would be forever.

However, the reservoir is no closer to becoming a reality now than it has over the past 30 years it has been the subject of heated debate throughout North and Northeast Texas.

The lake being pitched would put about 66,000 acres of prime hardwood forest underwater. Therein lies the crux of the opposition to the reservoir project. The loss of the hardwood would disrupt the region’s habitat, it would deprive property owners of their livelihood and would deprive the timber industry that is vital to the economic well-being of many communities throughout the region.

That appears to lie at the heart of the opposition to the reservoir.

Water planners, though, argue that the reservoir is necessary to quench the thirst of potentially millions of North Texans who will settle eventually in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Without the water they will need, the region cannot possibly grow toward anything approaching its potential.

Author and conservationist David Marquis sees alternatives to reservoir construction as avenues toward future economic growth and development. “Were reservoirs once the solution?” he writes. “Yes, they were. They were close to major population centers and much more economical to build. The proposed Marvin Nichols reservoir would cost us billions of dollars and be 150 miles away” from the Metroplex.

Marquis also is concerned about potential loss of productive agricultural real estate. “There also is a more question to be reckoned with,” he writes. “Building the Nichols reservoir will flood 66,000 thousand acres of productive agricultural land, including thousands of acres of hardwood forest. It would inundate rural school districts, displace families that have been on that land since the 1830s, destroy their homes, wash away the graves of their ancestors. In addition, it would require at least another 130,000 acres of land to be set aside to meet federal mitigation policies so that, in total, building the reservoir would take more than 200,000 acres out of production. This would have a devastating effect on Northeast Texas’ economy.”

Some of the alternatives to reservoir construction involve greater use of groundwater, according to Marquis. “We have constructed wetlands, underground storage in aquifers and filtration systems that can clean polluted water, including wastewater, to potable standards,” Marquis notes. He notes that utility companies use “educational initiatives to teach about water usage” and said that “in Texas, we can also filter the vast amounts of brackish water that exist under much of our state. Indeed, for much of Texas, the future of water is filtration. For those of us in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, we can also bring water from under-utilized existing reservoirs, such as Lake Toledo Bend.”

The Marvin Nichols project is so huge it has two water district sponsors, the Tarrant Regional Water District and the North Texas Municipal Water District. Indeed, the NTMWD is in the midst now of building the Bois d’Arc Lake Reservoir in Fannin County, which will provide roughly 16,000 surface acres of water to the region. NTMWD recently completed its mitigation work on land at Riverby Ranch, restoring much of the land to its original habitat. NTMWD claims success in welcoming back wildlife to the region as well.

Of particular concern to critics of the reservoir is the loss of what they call “bottomland hardwood forest” land that many deem essential to the timber industry that harvests the wood for use in home construction.

The fight over the Marvin Nichols project has raged seemingly forever. It would run along the main stem of the Sulphur River. The project was proposed in 1984 and ever since the proposal that came forward, the site has been embroiled in disputes and challenges. As the Dallas Morning News stated in an editorial: “Serious and considerate evaluations were needed, but the time has run out. The future generations of this region will suffer. The reservoir would be built on the main stem of the Sulphur River in East Texas.”

The NTMWD foresees a population explosion occurring in North Texas, citing the Texas Comptroller’s Office estimate that the state population will exceed 47 million residents by 2050; the 2020 Census puts Texas’s population at about 29 million.

The Marvin Nichols Reservoir remains a critical asset to help the region deal with that expected growth, according to NTMWD. “The reservoir was conceived to provide water supply for multiple water providers and jurisdictions and is one of a combination of water supply strategies intended to meet the water needs of North Texans,” the district declares in a statement.

The Texas Water Development Board updates its State Water Plan every five years, compiling information from 16 regional water plans to develop its SWP, NTMWD states. The North Texas Region lies within the Region C water planning area. The water district acknowledges the concern for conserving water and for “reducing water demands and making use of existing supplies,” but adds that “it is clear that development of new water supplies is required to meet the future needs of Texas.” NTMWD states that the Nichols project “has been included in the SWP for several decades as a recommended water supply strategy for Region C.”

The NTMWD offers assurances that it intends to deal with mitigation activities required when the reservoir is completed. “The 2021 Region C plan,” states the district, “contains an analysis of the environmental, agricultural, timberland and socio-economic impacts of the Marvin Nichols Reservoir, including the effect of mitigation activities.”

NTWMD notes as well that Bois d’Arc Lake is nearing completion, citing it as the first major reservoir “constructed in Texas in 30 years. The vast majority of lake property for the Bois d’Arc Lake project was acquired from willing sellers and even though the lake is still filling, Fannin County is already experiencing economic benefits from the lake.” NTMWD anticipates future benefit will come to the region surrounding the Marvin Nichols Reservoir.

The water district seeks to offer assurance that it will “continue to act responsibly and prudently in all efforts to evaluate and develop needed water supply projects for our region and Texas. Our future depends on it.”

The Marvin Nichols project took form 38 years ago. There have been endless fights among numerous interest groups on both sides of the debate. There appears to be no end in sight … to the bickering.