Water group takes Marvin Nichols reservoir out of regional plan
Kerry Craig | News-Telegram Assistant Editor

June 24, 2005 - After months of meetings in which vocal opponents argued against plans to include a proposed Marvin Nichols Lake in future water plans for Northeast Texas, a new plan for the years 2006-2010 identifies three potential reservoirs in the area, but leaves Nichols out.

Hopkins County Precinct 1 Commissioner Beth Wisenbaker, who represents the county on the Northeast Texas Regional Planning Group’s board of directors, said the effect of the Marvin Nichols project on the timber industry, natural resources, the environment and the economy were taken into account when finalizing the plan.

“When we did the research study into that, we felt like that gave us justification to not build Marvin Nichols, so Marvin Nichols was removed from the Region D plan,” she said.

The planning group did carry over, from its 2001-2005 water plan, a listing of unique sites identified as potential water reservoirs in future years. That includes the two reservoir sites referred to as the George Parkhouse Lakes I and II, which could be built in the area north of Sulphur Bluff.

The new regional water plan projects population growth and water demand to grow by approximately 75 percent over the next five years, primarily in Bowie, Hunt and Smith counties, and plans to meet those projected needs are the primary focus of the group.

One of the main concerns to be considered will be water needs from neighboring Region C, which includes Dallas. With Marvin Nichols removed from planning concepts, the board explored a number of recommendations.

“We have studied conservation issues, studied raising [lake] levels and the desalinization of water from Lake Texoma and Wright Patman Lake,” Wisenbaker explained. “There has been talk of [water] allocation formulas for Wright Patman that could be tweaked a little bit to generate a little bit more water.”

Wisenbaker also said there is a plan to build a pipeline from Toledo Bend to Lake Fork and on to Dallas.

“That has been brought forth as an alternative that could be studied and be of possible use as an alternative to building a new reservoir,” she said.

For Northeast Texas, long-range water plans could include participation with the city of Dallas in construction of a new lake in Region D.

“There are probably a few stumbling blocks, a little bit of environmental impact, and naturally a few people that don’t want it, but that is fine,” Wisenbaker said. “I believe you will find a majority of the people realize that we need to be in control of our destiny. We don’t let it just happen to us.”

With the Metroplex growing out to Rockwall and into Hunt County, Hopkins County is next in line for growth, according to Wisenbaker, and a partnership to build the Parkhouse lakes could benefit both areas.

“[Population growth] is coming, it is going to happen” she said. “If we could encourage Dallas to look into building the Parkhouse Lakes as our partner — they will fund the lake, and we will get a portion of that water — that will help our economic growth and to meet the demands of the future as we experience the population growth that we surely will see in the 10 to 15 years.”

A public hearing on the new Northeast Texas Regional Water Plan is scheduled for Tuesday, Aug. 2, at 7 p.m. in the Civic Center in Gilmer.

Copies of the plan are available for review at Hopkins County Courthouse and Sulphur Springs Public Library.

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