Northeast Texas counties pass resolutions opposing Marvin Nichols Reservoir

Two Northeast Texas counties have passed resolutions calling for the long-discussed Martin Nichols Reservoir to be removed from the state’s water plan.

Commissioners in Red River and Cass counties voted to oppose the project planned on the main stem of the Sulphur River in Red River and Titus counties. The reservoir has been a potential project for future water supply for almost 40 years.

Texas is divided into 16 water planning regions. Each region creates its own regional water plan, which is then submitted to the comprehensive state plan.

Region C — which includes mostly the Dallas-Fort Worth area — has consistently included a recommendation in its water plan for creation of the Martin Nichols Reservoir and it would primarily benefit from it.

That plan is revised every five years, and the resolutions passed by Red River and Cass counties address the 2027 state water plan.

Region D, which includes those two counties as well as Gregg and 16 others in this area, is opposed to the reservoir. Members say the project not only would affect the land, but the ecosystem, economy and lives of those who live within the region.

Janice Bezanson, senior policy director for the Texas Conservation Alliance and Preserve Northeast Texas steering committee member, said she hopes the resolutions passed by Red River and Cass counties will raise visibility about the issues the project presents.

The reservoir would inundate 66,000 acres of prime timber , agricultural and wetlands with an additional estimated 130,000 acres removed from private land ownership for mitigation required by the federal government, Bezanson said.

She said the effects of the reservoir on the surrounding counties not only would be destructive but would affect thousands of residents.

“We’re looking at maybe 200,000 acres (of land) that would be shifted from private individual land owners who would be forced to sell it for public land,” Bezanson said.

She mentioned a school district in Cuthand, an unincorporated community in Red River County, that will have 40% of its area taken if the reservoir moves forward. This equates to 40% of its tax roll vanishing.

She also said “this is a very rich archaeological area for Native Americans, and there will be a lot of Native American sites that have not been explored that will go underwater.”

According to Preserve Northeast Texas, a nonprofit organization organized to oppose Marvin Nichols, “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.”

Bezanson said most people in the Dallas-Fort Worth area aren’t even aware that the reservoir has been proposed. She believes the recent resolutions opposing the project could help educate Northeast Texans about the proposition.

Additionally, Bezanson hopes the resolutions raise awareness of the issue for those in statewide leadership who have influence on whether or not the project goes forward.

“It hasn’t been on anybody’s attention. We want to change that and begin getting people focused on the critical issues, what the alternatives are,” she said.

Bezanson said the Dallas-Fort Worth area has not made efforts to reduce water consumption or engage in conversation efforts as much as other Texas cities.

“If they brought their water levels down to other cities, that would probably be enough,” she added.

Also, by participating in municipal water reuse and recycling, the region could conserve water.

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