SULPHUR SPRINGS — The battle between a thirsty Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex and Northeast Texas residents set on protecting a way of life continues.
A group tasked with resolving a dispute between the two regions about the proposed Marvin Nichols Reservoir, primarily in Red River County, came to an impasse Tuesday, and the decision about whether to continue meeting looms.
More than 100 Northeast Texas residents packed the meeting of sub-committees representing Region C and Region D water planning groups at the Hopkins County Regional Civic Center to oppose the 72,000 acre lake. Roughly 20 people spoke against the lake with one lone speaker voicing support.
After a three-hour meeting moderated by a Texas Water Development Board representative, the 14-member committee stalled when members could not agree on a timeframe for building the lake — either 30 or 50 years in the future.
Region C representatives said planning for the lake needs to begin now in order to meet the needs of thirsty Dallas-Fort Worth by the year 2050 while Region D representatives insist on keeping 2070 as a target date if the reservoir, in fact, is the only option Region C has for supplying water to a population projected to double in size by 2050.
Region D representatives insist a 2015 agreement between the two groups, which set 2070 as a target date, should remain in tact. That agreement came about when the Texas Water Development Board, after litigation forced its hand, declared a conflict between the two groups and encouraged cooperation to solve the conflict.
At the time, the two regions agreed that Region C will move Marvin Nichols as a designated strategy to the year 2070 in its 2016 regional water plan and will support Region D’s efforts to study alternate water supplies, resulting in the development of the 2021 regional plans, according to an official document. Region C agreed no permit applications would be filed for actual construction.
Region D agreed to not challenge the reservoir through the end of the 2021 cycle of regional water planning. The groups further agreed to “work more cooperatively in the next regional water planning process.” Those plans are due in October. According to law, there can be no conflict between the state’s 16 water planning regions in the state water plan, updated every five years.
In an attempt to move the two groups toward conflict resolution, Texas Water Development Board representative Robert Gulley proposed keeping Marvin Nichols as a recommended strategy with an on-line decade of 2070 along with specific recommendations for studies by mutually agreed upon third party contractors to “evaluate the environmental and economic impacts of the reservoir, the estimated amount of any potential mitigation as well as the efficacy of alternative water supplies and water conservation strategies.” No permits would be filed through 2027.
With voiced agreement on everything in Gulley’s recommendation except the on-line target date, the two groups refused to move from their positions. That is when Region D committee member David Nabors of Paris recommended the committees take results of the meeting to respective planning groups and then decide if there is reason to have another sub-committee meeting to attempt to resolve an obvious conflict.
“We can take what we’ve got today before our respective boards and then we get back together to decide if we have a reason for a meeting or we don’t have a meeting,” Nabors said.
Region D is to meet at 1 p.m. Jan. 23 at the Region 8 Education Service Center in Pittsburg and Region C at 1 p.m. Feb. 10 at the North Central Texas Council of Governments in Arlington. Both meetings are open to the public.