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Marvin Nichols supporters submit study to state showing impact of lake, locals to respond by Nov. 19

By Glenn Evans
Nov. 3, 2014 at 11 p.m.

Northeast Texas water planners have two weeks to respond to a revised application by Dallas-area interests hoping to build a reservoir on the Sulphur River to provide water for the Dallas metroplex.

The 125-page report, which was not made public, attaches numbers to Dallas-area water planners' estimates of the impact the proposed Marvin Nichols Reservoir could have on natural resources and agricultural interests in Northeast Texas.

"This is half of the conversation," said Walt Sears, administrator of the Region D Water Planning Group, which represents 17 counties in Northeast Texas.

He said planning group attorney Jim Thompson would prepare a response by the Nov. 19 deadline to further the conversation among state water authorities.

"My initial take on the report that was submitted by (Dallas-area) Region C suggests, in broad numbers, fairly modest acres would be needed for mitigation," Sears said, referring to acreage that must be set aside to mitigate land affected by a new lake aside from its 70,000-acres of water surface.

Timber and environmental interests have opposed the reservoir, in part, because it would flood rare hardwood stands in the lake bed and remove softwood timber on mitigation property from the market.

Sears said the Region C report indicated slightly more than 47,000 acres fall into the latter category.

"There are other estimates out there that place the mitigation (land) at significantly different from that - higher," Sears said.

He also said the report cites a second lake proposal, Bois D'Arc Creek Reservoir on a Red River tributary, where mitigation land was secured without the need for eminent domain seizures.

"That's a good sign," Sears said.

The Northeast Texas Water Planning Group and its sister panel in the 16-county Region C have been at odds for more than a decade over Marvin Nichols, proposed in Red River County.

The Texas Water Development Board at first refused to resolve the conflict but was forced to step in by a court after Region D and local stakeholders filed suit.

The state water board's executive administrator, Kevin Patteson, sided with the Dallas planners in his initial recommendation to the board last spring.

The panel, however, agreed with Thompson at an Aug. 8 hearing that Region C had not specified the lake's impact beyond loose estimates of low, medium and high.

The Water Development Board then sent the Region C Water Planning Group back to the drawing board. On a 2-1 vote, the board gave the metroplex group until Monday to attach numbers to its estimates of the impact Marvin Nichols could have.

Its Nov. 19 deadline for a response also applies to its executive administrator, Patteson.



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