Proposed Marvin Nichols site

Efforts to halt the construction of Marvin Nichols Reservoir in Red River and Franklin counties as early as 2050 continue although the proposed lake remains in the 2022 State Water Plan approved in July by the Texas Water Development Board.

Region D Water Planning Group chairman Jim Thompson penned a letter Nov. 11 to the Region C Planning Group to notify the Dallas-Fort Worth group of a potential conflict in the state plan, and encouraged interregional coordination efforts going forward.

Past experiences between the groups regarding conflicts have shown early identification and discussions can be helpful, the letter states.

“The Interregional Planning Council Report to the Texas Water Development Board dated Oct. 16, 2020, stressed the importance of identifying issues and potential interregional conflict conflicts at the beginning and throughout the planning cycle,” the letter states. “However, we are also aware that Region C has consistently included the potential Marvin Nichols Reservoir as a future water supply source in its plans. We also know that for at least the last 20 years, Region D has included language in its plans that expressly states that Marvin Nichols Reservoir should not be included in the state water plan or any regional water plan because it does no protect the economic, agricultural and natural resources of the region and of Texas and that the development of this project would have a substantial adverse effect on our region as a result.”

Thompson included references to the Region D plan that outlines concerns and proposes solutions for Region C water needs going forward.

“It is certainly our hope that our two groups can avoid a conflict,” Thompson wrote. “We are willing to take all reasonable measures to do so. We are sending a copy of this letter to representatives of the Texas Water Development Board. It is our desire that a conflict be avoided if at all possible and hopefully, both regions can work toward that goal.” A copy of the Nov. 11 letter is available on a link to the online version of this story.

Meanwhile, efforts by Preserve Northeast Texas, a group formed in July 2021 to step up opposition to the reservoir, continue with more than 1,000 signatures to date on a petition condemning the proposed lake, according to a group press release.

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

Although no litigation has been hinted to date by either the citizens group or by the Region D Planning Group, landowners filed litigation in 2011 and again in 2013 that resulted both times with a court ruling stating that the state plan contains conflicts prohibited by state law, according to earlier newspaper reports.The suits brought about efforts by the Texas Water Development Board to encourage mediation meetings between Region C and Region D planning groups to resolve conflicts. A 2015 agreement between the two groups set 2070 as a target date for the lake to be built.

The latest meeting took place in January 2020 at which time a 14-member committee, with representatives from both regions and moderated by a Texas Water Development Board representative, reached an impasse when the group could not agree on a timeframe for the lake to be built, either 30 or 50 years in the future. Consequently, the 2022 Water Plan plan again contains conflicting regional plans.

Mary Madewell is a staff writer for The Paris News. She can be reached at 903-785-6976 or at mary.madewell@theparisnews.com.

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