Study Calls for Review of Timeline, Costs, Land Acquisition and Economic Impact
AUSTIN – The Texas Legislature passed, and Governor Abbot signed HB1, the State Budget, which included language to study the feasibility of the Marvin Nichols Reservoir and deliver findings to the Legislative Budget Board and the Governor by January 5, 2025, the start of the next Legislative Session.
State Rep. Gary VanDeaver, whose District encompasses much of the footprint of the proposed reservoir, had originally proposed the study as an amendment to the Sunset Bill for the Texas Water Development Board. He later ensured that the study was added to the budget.
“Roughly 66,000 of private land would be used to build this reservoir, but at least an additional 130,000 acres of land [would be] taken out of production and out of private hands,” he said at the time. “This would make the proposed Marvin Nichols Reservoir one of the most expensive public works projects and one of the largest land grabs by eminent domain in Texas history.”
The language the budget specifically states “… the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) shall evaluate the feasibility of the proposed Marvin Nichols Reservoir project … The review shall analyze the implementation timeline, associated costs, land acquisition considerations, and the economic impact of the proposed project.”
This study addresses key concerns of eminent domain and practicality raised by state leaders, including Governor Abbot and State Senator Charles Perry, a leader on water issues in the Legislature.
When Governor Abbott was asked specifically about Marvin Nichols Reservoir by a Tyler news station, he said: “…we must explore other options before we start taking people’s lands or flooding property that’s been around for literally centuries.”
State Senator Charles Perry has repeatedly expressed skepticism of the feasibility of reservoirs to meet our state’s water needs. In a Senate hearing where Marvin Nichols was raised by Northeast Texas residents, he said: “… I want them [reservoirs] out of the water plan if they’re not going to produce water for us. We can’t, we can’t depend on something that’s not going to happen … It’s been on the books for 30, 40 years, and just now having a conversation … it takes way too long to put one up.”
Advocates who have been calling on lawmakers to remove Marvin Nichols from the State Water Plan are encouraged by the feasibility study and believe it acknowledges the controversial and unrealistic nature of the Marvin Nichols Reservoir.
“I’m so pleased lawmakers heard our pleas and are calling on the Texas Water Development Board to take a critical look at this controversial plan,” said Dr. Jim Marshall who testified in front of lawmakers against Marvin Nichols. “We are grateful that Representative VanDeaver pushed for this study and is
puting the plight of Northeast Texans front and center for lawmakers. I look forward to participating in this study and doing all I can to ensure it leads to the ultimate removal of this devastating reservoir from the State Water Plan.”