Water board backs environmentally destructive reservoir

Media Contacts

Environment Texas Research and Policy Center

AUSTIN – The Executive Administrator of the Texas Water Development Board today backed the Marvin Nichols reservoir against the wishes of the northeast communities where it would be built, in a proposed settlement of a dispute between two regional water groups. The proposed water project would wipe out 70,000 acres of rare forest and farmland in order to supply the Dallas/Fort Worth region. TWDB has been ordered by a judge to settle the dispute and today EA Kevin Patteson recommended that the reservoir stay in the State Water Plan. After receiving public comment, the board of TWDB will make a final decision.

“This is the water board’s first big test since voters entrusted them with billions in new water spending and they are blowing it,” said Environment Texas Director Luke Metzger. “This project is wasteful, it would destroy a river and pristine forestland, and it has no place in our state’s water future. We urge the TWDB board members to reject Marvin Nichols and direct the Region C water planners to identify water solutions that don’t destroy rivers, including cutting water waste in Dallas/Fort Worth.”

In November, Environment Texas Research and Policy Center released Down to the Last Drop, which highlighted Marvin Nichols as one of the projects in the 2012 State Water Plan which could further harm Texas rivers and wildlife. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service considers the hardwood forest along the Sulphur River, “Priority 1” habitat which would be destroyed for the reservoir, to be “excellent quality bottomlands of high value to key waterfowl species.” More than 75 percent of bottomland hardwood forest in Texas has already been destroyed. Rather than destroying this unique area, the Environment Texas report calculated that 500 billion gallons of water could be saved each year by 2020 through water conservation measures in agriculture, energy and cities.

A 2013 poll by Texas A&M University of attitudes by Texans on water policy found that nothing had more support (71 percent) than the idea that we need to protect “water resources for environmental needs.”  The other ideas – water related infrastructure improvements, education and public relations campaigns to encourage greater voluntary conservation, and tax incentives and tax cuts to encourage water conservation – had the support of between 64 and 67 percent of Texans.

Today’s decision is only preliminary and does not guarantee Marvin Nichols will be built. Environment Texas urged Texans to submit comments in opposition to TWDB by April 15.