Marvin Nichols -- Good or Bad?

The following exchange of ideas appeared in the Mount Pleasant Daily Tribune.


Mount Pleasant Daily Tribune, 9 August 2002
Editorial By Publisher R.B. Palmer


Like most folks around here, I have mixed feelings about the proposed giant Marvin Nichols Reservoir for the Sulphur River. Some of these feelings go all the way back to when we struggled to create Titus County Fresh Water District, No. 1, and then voted bond to pay our share of the cost. I remember I supported both projects; and one of my arguments went along the line that if we didn't build it, Dallas or some big city would, and we would have to beg them for water if we needed it.

As you are aware, construction of the Marvin Nichols Reservoir would have the Metroplex area paying the greater cost of the reservoir, and having the rights to its water in proportion to the money it put up. We and the counties where the reservoir would flood, as I understand it, would have water rights in the same proportion as we put up money for the construction. I could be wrong, but that is how I understand the situation. Which means that over the years all or most of that water would be locked up for Dallas, Fort Worth, etc. If we wanted more of it, we would have to go begging them for it.

Not a comfortable situation.

I also think the supposed economical benefit of a large lake sometimes is overblow. Did Lake O' The Pines boom Jefferson, Daingerfield, Pittsburg and other small towns in the area, or did it help Marshall and Longview more? Have you seen great prosperity around Lake Texoma and in the small towns around it? Sure they were helped some, but they didn't become boom towns.

All of which makes me believe development of a series of small dams and lakes funded by local areas and the state would be of more long-range benefit to us and our neighbors. I remember the former head of the Titus County Fresh Water District John Mason talking to me of a dream he had of a lake on the White Oak where we and our neighbors would control the water rights. Those last two words "water rights" seem to me to be the key to long-range development of our area and not that of our neighbors to the West.

The water may flow through our land, but we don't own it until the State says we do. Once they go West, they are gone. I would hate to see this as I would hope over the years this water can benefit all of us in Northeast Texas.

Mount Pleasant Daily Tribune, 1 September 2002
Letter-to-the-Editor by Judy Lee, Member, SeRBiA

[Judy Lee's family owns the El Chico Restaurante in Mount Pleasant, I-30 at US 271. Everybody should boycott this restaurant. R.]

Dear Editor:

The Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex is under contract with the Sulphur River Basin Authority for the initial planning studies for the Marvin Nichols Reservoir. These contracts call for the D/FW area to eventually fund 100 percent of the reservoir costs along with 100 percent of the operation and maintenance costs in exchange for 80 percent of the water. SRBA will bear no cost for costruction of O&M for the reservoir. SRBA will maintain the water rights for the water and contract water sales to both D/FW and northeast Texas entities.

Based upon lake yield studies referred to in the State Water Plan, the remaining 20 percent of the water equates to 110,000 acre-feet per year. Lake Bob Sandlin, while producing 48,500 acre-feet of water per year, only 10,000 acre-feet per year is available for local use according to the Titus County Fresh Water District #1. This also equates to 20 percent of the available water in Lake Bob Sandlin.

It is a recognized fact that lakes constructed by the Army Corps of Engineers do not offer the same development opportunities that other lakes offer. Lakes Bob Sandlin and Cypress Springs allow development along the shoreline unlike Lake Texoma, Lake O' the Pines, Lake Wright Patman and Cooper Reservoir. The Marvin Nichols Reservoir will be built by the Sulphur River Basin Authority. This will allow shoreline development.

The Region D water plan lists several reservoirs that can be constructed in the Sulphur River Basin. The Marvin Nichols Reservoir by far will be the least expensive per acre-foot of water.

Northeast Texas can benefit from this reservoir both in the water we retain for Northeast Texas and the economic benefits from shoreline development as has been seen with Lake Cypress Springs. In a 30-year period the valuation in and around this reservoir went from $3 million to $213 million. We can expect similar results at the proposed Marvin Nichols Reservoir.

Sincerely, Judy Lee, SeRBiA

Mount Pleasant Daily Tribune, 6 October 2002
Letter-to-the-Editor by Patricia McKelvey, Bogata, Texas

Dear Editor:

The letter from the Sulphur River Basin Authority (SRBA) board member Judy Lee shows exactly why our regional water planning group have found it necessary to amend our region's water plan. They need to restrain the SRBA from developing the Marvin Nichols I Reservoir. The SRBA misses the big picture and ignores plain facts.

Ms. Lee states that the SRBA would bear no cost in building the lake. She chose to ignore the fact that a minimum 235,000 acres would be taken from our county and school district tax rolls. Our schools are already running on a shoestring. Our school districts would be forced to raise taxes on people's property that was not taken for the reservoir. We would, in effect, be forced to pay a type of water welfare to Dallas-Fort Worth for their access to our water. Ms. Lee, there is no free lunch.

Ms. Lee misinforms people by saying there would be development all around the Marvin Nichols I Reservoir. Marvin Nichols I would cover a special Priority I land area set up for protection by the U.S. Department of the Interior. According to federal law, this required mitigation land "must" be around the impacted site "first" so that all of the displaced wildlife have a place to go as the lake waters begin to rise.

Marvin Nichols I would flood 35,000 acres of high priority land and another 15,000 acres of medium priority land as compared with the less than 6,000 acres of priority land that Cooper Lake flooded. After mitigation law was enforced, there wouild be no opportunity for development around the Marvin Nichols I shoreline, just like Cooper Lake.

Many state elected officials, both candidates for Texas Governor, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, the Texas Forestry Service, and the Texas Department of Agriculture have announced their problems with the reservoir. The appointed and unelected members of the Sulphur River Basin Authority just don't get that.

Sincerely, Patricia McKelvey, Bogata