Political death of reservoir may bring two others to life
Parkhouse projects could be built near Cooper Lake

Kerry Craig | News-Telegram Assistant Editor

January 16, 2004 -- A decision by the Dallas City Council earlier this week to not spend more than a half million dollars for its share of the planning costs of Marvin Nichols Reservoir, along with the declaration by U.S. Rep. Max Sandlin that the project was politically dead, has effectively ended plans for development of the lake.

Sandlin said the project is so reviled in northeast Texas the proposal is doomed, something he said he has made clear to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which would have to issue a permit.

''There's no reason to cause these problems for a lake that's not ever going to be built,'' said Sandlin, whose district includes the proposed lake site and the existing Northeast Texas reservoirs. ''We see the entire project as pure folly, as a waste of taxpayers' dollars. You just might as well burn that $600,000.''

The action by Dallas was not unexpected by the state's water planning group, according to Beth Wisenbaker, Hopkins County's respresentative to Region D of the state water planning group.

With the proposed Marvin Nichols Lake all but completely out of the picture, Wisenbaker said there is the possibility of two smaller lakes being built just below Cooper Lake.

"It's the Parkhouse Lakes, George Parkhouse I and II," she said. "They are just below Cooper Lake where the fork in the Sulphur River happens."

The development of the two lakes could provide about one-half of the amount of water that could have been expected from Marvin Nichols.

"But, at the same time, you don't have the expense of a pipeline, at a cost of $1 million a mile," she said. "Since the pipeline [to Dallas] is already there at Cooper Lake and, since these lakes would be right below Cooper, you could put the pipeline at them and move the water to Cooper and on to Dallas."

The environmental impact associated with the construction of the Parkhouse Lakes would not be nearly as great as with Marvin Nichols Reservoir.

"The environmental impact was pretty much taken care of when they developed Cooper Lake," Wisenbaker said. "So it is not as environmentally sensitive as the Marvin Nichols area."

Wisenbaker said the development of the Parkhouse Lakes could also provide room for residential development and growth in the area.

"It could," she said. "People out of Dallas could come and build homes and there could be recreational facilities."

Northeast Texas landowners, timber companies, environmental groups and others have fought the Marvin Nichols project for three years.

Environmentalists have said numerous options could supply Dallas' future water needs without the habitat loss and local disruptions of building the 100-square-mile lake on the Sulphur River. The feasibility study on Marvin Nichols is a joint effort of the Sulphur River Basin Authority and major public water systems in urban North Texas.

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