NORTHEAST TEXAS (May 17, 2022) —Texans are weighing in with their opposition to the proposed Marvin Nichols Reservoir—the costliest proposed project in the state water plan. To date, more than 1,600 individuals from across the Lone Star State have signed a petition to publicly oppose the reservoir. The petition was initiated by Preserve Northeast Texas, a growing group comprised of fellow Texans, landowners, business owners, community leaders, conservationists, and elected officials. Others have written letters to Preserve Northeast Texas expressing their opposition to the use of eminent domain to build the costly and unnecessary reservoir.
The proposed Marvin Nichols Reservoir, located on the main stem of the Sulphur River in Red River, Titus, and Franklin Counties, would flood more than 66,000 acres of heritage ranchland, hardwood forest and wetlands in Northeast Texas to pipe water 150 miles back to the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. In addition to the land that would be flooded, the proposed reservoir would require that at least another 130,000 acres be taken from private ownership for mitigation purposes. Eminent domain will be used to force thousands of Texans to sell their lands, some of which has been in their families since the 1800s. What’s more, water usage reports show that the project is being driven by the demand to water lawns in the DFW area.
Northeast Texas residents are putting their words on paper to demonstrate their strong opposition to the unnecessary water project which, to them, represents the potential loss of their livelihood. Many Northeast Texans see the proposed water project for the heartbreaking risk it poses in jeopardizing their family lands, as well as the destruction it would have to their local environment, economy, and community. Some have expressed their frustration, pleading for other measures to be considered by water planners so that rural residents and businesses do not suffer at the expense of urban areas’ demands.
“Building the reservoir will mean a hard hit in the ecosystem in Northeast Texas. We will lose many indigenous trees, [and] timber production will slow and create a rise in prices… Building a reservoir shouldn’t be the first choice. There are way more alternatives to provide more water to the DFW area,” wrote Brandon.
“Eminent domain has a history of being a flawed system used to the convenience of the government,” said Pedro. “A more accurate definition of this would be: ‘It’s your land until Dallas needs it’ in this case. When are large metroplex areas going to stop taking small town’s land?” he asked. “Who’s to say your land isn’t next?”
“The cost of the reservoir wouldn’t be worth the problems that [would] arise with it. For example, the land that families have been living on for years would have to be bought. Where would they go?” asked Saul. “It would be a big waste of farmland… Many species of animals would be pushed out of their homes,” he wrote before proposing a solution. “Building the reservoir would be an extreme course of action; why not take simple measures to conserve water? Why waste so much money when you could use a fraction to fund water conservation efforts?”
Another Texan, Alan, wrote in with a similar suggestion and said, “Instead of taking land [from fellow Texans], Dallas should focus more on methods for conserving water.”
Conservation would be a cheaper option given that the proposed Marvin Nichols Reservoir in rural Northeast Texas will be paid for by taxpayers in the Dallas-Fort Worth area at an estimated cost of $4.4 billion and rising. There are untapped water resources and less costly as well as less environmentally damaging options that exist and could be accessed to meet the demands of the growing metroplex without having to build the Marvin Nichols Reservoir. A few such options include utilizing existing reservoirs, capturing storm water and wastewater filtration and re-use using current technology.
“We small-town folk should not be responsible for the mishandling of the bigger cities. There are
alternatives to stripping thousands of acres of land from people,” wrote Odalys.
“There are other methods to save and preserve more water than to make a reservoir and kill off 200,000 acres worth of natural ecosystems. We simply do not need any more destruction of the environment for essential items we already have,” wrote Jenny. “There are so many alternative methods to [provide] water supply [without] making a new reservoir. One day we will run out of space to even have the option to make another reservoir, so what then?” she asked.
The Marvin Nichols Reservoir was adopted by water planners due to prediction of a future strain on the DFW Metroplex water supply. This prediction is based not only on expected population growth, but also continued high per capita water use. The target date for completion of the reservoir was moved forward in the State Water Plan last summer from 2070 to 2050.
Preserve Northeast Texas continues to encourage anyone in Texas who is opposed to the proposed Marvin Nichols Reservoir to sign the petition on its website at: PreserveNortheastTexas.org. The organization’s website offers downloadable information for advocates, in addition to tips on how others can get involved in opposing the proposed reservoir. The group can also be found on Facebook and Instagram at @PreserveNortheastTexas and Twitter @NoMarvinNichols.
The Preserve Northeast Texas Steering Committee includes:
Bill Ward, Jim Thompson, Max Shumake, Shirley Shumake, Linda Price, Richard LeTourneau, Cynthia Gwinn, Gary Cheatwood, and Janice Bezanson.