UPDATE (9/16/15): On September 9th, 2015 the Texas Water Development Board directed Regions C and D to undergo mediation to resolve conflicts between their initially proposed 2016 regional water plans. Marvin Nichols continues to play a huge roll in this conflict. This is progress, as further mediation will require Regions C and D, plus statewide water regulators, to once again consider the serious environmental impacts that the Marvin Nichols Reservoir will cause by potentially flooding 70,000 acres of priceless farms, rare forestland, and pristine wetlands. While the issue is far from resolved, we are optimistic that this is a significant step forward to protecting our open spaces and pushing for common sense water conservation measures.
What’s the project?
The Marvin Nichols Reservoir is included in the latest State Water Plan as a $3.4 billion project to supply water for municipal use in the Dallas-Fort Worth region. Under this project, up to 475,000 acre-feet of water per year would be piped from the reservoir to customers 115 miles away.
What’s at risk?
A dam would be 8 miles across, creating a reservoir that would flood 70,000 acres of priceless farms, rare forestland, and pristine wetlands, all of which support beavers, river otters, and millions of migratory birds. The forest around the river is so rare, that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has designated it as being a high priority area for conservation.
Unfortunately, more than 75 percent of all bottomland hardwood forest in Texas has already been destroyed by inundation or conversion to pine plantations or agricultural land. And today, flooding from new reservoirs is one of the major threats to this rare forestland in our state.
What’s the alternative?
Simply reducing water use through water conservation in the Dallas region to the same levels as is currently in place throughout the rest of the state by 2060 would avoid the need for the project all together, according to a recent study by the Texas Center for Policy Studies. Should additional water be needed, there are other potential sources, such as municipal water recycling.