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Water planners wrestle with Marvin Nichols

By Glenn Evans
Jan. 21, 2015 at 11 p.m.

Water planners for Northeast Texas laid out three options Wednesday on how to deal with a state order that they comply with the Dallas area's plans to build a lake here.

The Region D Water Planning Group will decide March 18 whether to refuse the Texas Water Development Board's Jan. 8 order to insert Marvin Nichols Reservoir into the latest version of its 50-year water plan or do as it was told.

Group Administrator Walt Sears said a third option, decided upon Wednesday in Mount Pleasant, was to write the 68,000-acre lake into its plan with language indicating the group was being forced.

The 16-county Dallas water planning region has included the Sulphur River reservoir in its plans since the late 1990s. The 18-county Region D Water Planning Group included Marvin Nichols in its plans until 2006, when its impact on timber and the overall economy stirred objections.

The options presented Wednesday apply only to a round of water planning that starts from scratch in a few months, Sears noted.

"There's no finality in any of these plans," Sears said.

"You start from scratch every (five-year) planning cycle."

All 16 water planning regions in Texas are in the final year of Round 3, which began in 2011.

Draft versions for Round 4 are due in Austin in May.

"So, whatever language is in the 2011 plan, it is likely to be in effect only a few months," Sears said.

During nearly a decade of having the lake in one region's plan but rejected in this region, the water board refused to acknowledge a conflict existed until it was ordered by a court to recognize the dispute and resolve it.

The state board was poised to do that in August but instead told the Dallas region to report in more detail just how the lake might affect the economy and natural resources of Northeast Texas.

The Northeast Texas water group submitted a response to the subsequent Dallas report, saying the North Central Texans group had failed to adequately show how the lake will impact this region.

The water board reviewed both reports and decided Jan. 8 that the Dallas area had complied with its August order, and Region D was ordered to re-insert the lake in its plan.

Sears said a public hearing will precede the planning group's discussion of which of the three options it will take.



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