The Region D public hearing over the Initially Prepared Plan featured remarks exclusively about how the Marvin Nichols Reservoir should not be part of the state’s water plan.
In Mount Pleasant, sitting in chairs spaced 6 feet apart, one by one, several speakers stood to decry Region C’s inclusion of the reservoir in their part of the 2021 state water plan last week.
Region C decided to ignore the agreement reached in 2015 between the two groups, one commenter said.
“Region C arbitrarily wants to change the content of the agreement,” Richard LeTourneau said. “I don’t believe there is any reasonable answer to why Region C changed it.”
After years of disagreements over the proposed reservoir, the two regions sat down in 2015 and created an agreement that the reservoir wouldn’t be considered in the water plan until 2070. Region C’s plan now has bumped up the timeline for the reservoir to 2050, in direct conflict with the previous agreement.
Gary Cheatwood, out of Red River County, said he and his family have been fighting the reservoir for more than 30 years.
“This is the most detrimental thing that can happen to the Sulphur River Basin,” he said. “This ain’t right, what they’re doing. We are a free and independent people. We should have the right to live where we want to live. … They are trying to boot us off of our land … so they can make a dollar or two off of it.”
Eddie Belcher, of Cuthand, said his family owns 800 acres that would be underwater if the lake were built. It’s been in his family for 10 generations.
“I don’t stand for this to be taken away from my kids and grandkids,” Belcher said. “Region C has no right to come into our territory and take what they think is rightfully their privilege. They waste water every day, running down the sidewalks. … You wake up every day wondering if you have a place to live.”
Lindy Guest said historically what happens when a reservoir goes in is people are not paid the full value of their land.
“We feel like we’re being taken advantage of,” Guest said. “... If this happens, who would decide the value of our land?
“Would it be someone from Region C to come down and decide what our land is supposedly worth or would we get Metroplex prices?”
In past discussions with Region C, the land around the lake was promised to be mitigated, but he wondered just how true that would be.
“It just seems like a big boondoggle,” Guest said. “Here’s what I don’t understand, if this is really about the water, then why, when they are offered reasonable alternatives to that lake, where they could get all the water they could use from another source and not have to do that, why don’t they consider that?
“I can speak for a lot of friends and neighbors in our area, they are against it, too. They aren’t able to be here today, but they feel the same way as I do.”