Stop Marvin Nichols Reservoir
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Action Alert


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Action Needed to Stop Unneeded Reservoirs
Your help is needed NOW

Thanks much for hanging in with us as we urged the Dallas City Council not to pursue new reservoirs in the Sulphur and Neches Basins.

The good news is that the Dallas Council put the existing Lake Wright Patman as a recommended water supply and dropped Marvin Nichols to the “alternatives” list. They also adopted additional conservation, water recycling, and an aggressive pursuit of studies of existing available sources.

The bad news is that a very divided council listed the proposed Fastrill Reservoir on the Neches River as a recommended supply for 2045 and requested it be in the state water plan and they voted funding both for the Sulphur River Basin Feasibility Study (which includes Marvin Nichols and George Parkhouse Reservoirs as well as the existing Wright Patman) and for a feasibility study of Fastrill.

Now the battles move to new arenas. There are three things to do in the next round:

The message is NO NEW RESERVOIRS! (Click here to jump down this page to details on Marvin Nichols Reservoir and here for information on Fastrill Reservoir and the proposed Neches River Wildlife Refuge.)

1. Write the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service by May 13 in support of the Neches River National Wildlife Refuge!

If the Neches River National Wildlife Refuge is approved by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), it would both protect 25,000 acres of very high quality bottomland hardwood forest and block the proposed Fastrill Reservoir on that site!

Tell USFWS that you support Alternative “B”, up to 25,182 acres.

The draft environmental assessment (EA) describing each alternative can be viewed here.  Comments on the EA are due May 13. THIS IS ONE TIME WHEN YOUR LETTER OR EMAIL COULD MAKE A HUGE DIFFERENCE!

Send your comments to Tom Baca, USFWS, P.O. Box 1306, Albuquerque, NM 87103 or (that's tom underscore baca).

It would be good if you could send a copy of your letter to the U.S. Senators from Texas, Kay Bailey Hutchison and John Cornyn, and relevant Members of Congress, Louie Gohmert and Jeb Hensarling.

Senators addresses: United States Senate, Washington, DC 20510
Members of Congress’ address: U.S. House of Representatives, Washington, DC 20515

Click here to learn more about the proposed Neches River refuge and Fastrill Reservoir

2. Email Region C Water Planning Group with the same message as in #1 – no new reservoirs because…

There will be a final vote in May on the draft regional plan so your email message will still help even after Monday's meeting.

It would be good to send a copy of your email to members of the Texas Water Development Board and chairs of the Natural Resources Committees in the state legislature (email addresses below).

For more information, contact me or Beth Johnson, 214-902-9260, For last-minute inquiries, call Beth’s cell phone 214-415-5089.

Email addresses of the members of Region C Water Planning Group (just cut and paste the whole list into your email program and you only have to send out one email):;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;

Email for TWDB: Send to and ask that your message be sent to each of the TWDB board members.

Email address for Senate and House Natural Resources Chairs:;; (staff)

DFW-North Texas should fully utilize existing sources of water supply before planning to build Marvin Nichols Reservoir.

Everyone shares the goal of meeting the future water needs of Dallas, Fort Worth, and North Texas. We certainly hope that everyone shares the goal of meeting those needs by adopting the lowest-cost strategies for water supply with minimum impact to the environment and economy.

  • Water providers in the DFW-North Texas area are planning a $1.7 billion reservoir on the Sulphur River, Marvin Nichols Reservoir, which would flood 72,000 acres of productive farms and forests.
  • Water experts have identified a number of less harmful, less costly alternatives to Marvin Nichols Reservoir to meet North Texas' projected future water needs.
  • Per-person water usage in the North Texas area is one of the highest in the state. There is tremendous opportunity for North Texas to reduce its per-person municipal water usage to levels that other cities have achieved (including in North Texas) through water efficiency measures.
  • North Texas has not fully utilized existing water sources. North Texas does not require new reservoirs to meet future (fifty years) water needs. Water needs could be filled instead by a combination of: (1) utilizing unsold water in existing reservoirs, (2) having the region's top 50 cities achieve the moderate water efficiency that 20 of the top 50 are already on schedule to achieve, and (3) increasing use of wastewater, as already envisioned in the regional water plan.
  • A significant quantity of already impounded water is available to North Texas because it is as yet unsold in reservoirs such as Lake Texoma and Wright Patman Lake (near Texarkana). Water purveyors in the DFW area are proceeding with the expensive Marvin Nichols Reservoir project without giving these already existing sources sufficient consideration.
  • Construction and mitigation of Marvin Nichols Reservoir would require condemnation of 235,000 - 720,000 acres of private land. Thousands of Texans would be forced to sell the family land that provides their annual livelihoods.
  • According to the principal economist for the Texas Forest Service, Marvin Nichols would cause a loss to the timber industry alone of 400 to 1300 jobs and $87 million to $275 million in annual revenues. Wildlife habitat in the Sulphur Basin would also be severely impacted by Marvin Nichols. More than 40 miles of river and 30,000 acres of increasingly rare bottomland hardwood forests would disappear forever.
  • Charging North Texas ratepayers a minimum of $1.7 billion, destroying valuable ranchland and wildlife land, and negatively impacting the economy of Northeast Texas are options that should not be considered as long as there are lower-cost, lower-impact water supply alternatives available to the Metroplex.
  • The unprecedented level of opposition to Marvin Nichols Reservoir can be expected to cause permit difficulties, delays, escalating costs, and a high level of uncertainty for the project.

We urge elected officials, water planners, the Texas Water Development Board, and the Region C Water Planning Group to oppose Marvin Nichols Reservoir (and any studies of that or other new reservoirs) and to adopt an expressed goal of satisfying DFW-North Texas' projected water needs by fully utilizing water readily available in existing reservoirs before erecting costly and destructive new reservoir projects.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has released an environmental assessment for public review, prior to establishing the Neches River Wildlife Refuge on the lovely stretch of the Upper Neches River in Anderson and Cherokee Counties.

The refuge needs YOUR support!

Water developers are trying to block final approval of the Refuge, to keep the site free for Fastrill Reservoir, which would drown most of the 25,000 acres proposed for the refuge.

Fastrill is not needed for water supply. The City of Dallas recently listed it in the City’s Long-Range Water Supply Plan as a potential source of water supply for 2045, but there is enough water available from existing reservoirs to way more than meet Dallas’ water demands projected as far out as 2060.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has ranked the 25,000 acres within the refuge boundary as Priority 1 bottomlands. The refuge lands contain some of the best remaining and least disturbed bottomland hardwood forest habitat left in Texas.

Additional reservoirs on the Neches (such as Fastrill) would impact the very-water-dependent Big Thicket National Preserve, two national forest wilderness areas, a state wildlife management area, and other significant downstream natural resources that depend on upstream flood flows to maintain habitat diversity. The Upper Neches is prime habitat for Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s project considering reintroduction of the endangered black bear in Texas. The refuge site is in the debris field of the wreckage of the space shuttle Columbia and has been proposed as a memorial to this national tragedy. Fastrill reservoir would also impact the Texas State Historical Railroad.

The Neches River Protection Initiative, a coalition of citizen groups, launched an initiative several years ago to seek designation of the Neches as a National Scenic River from Lake Palestine to B.A. Steinhagen Reservoir and possibly farther downriver.

Unlike the reservoir, the refuge would be purchased from willing sellers only. The refuge would provide recreational opportunities that would help fuel the growing ecotourism industry in East Texas.