District judge in Austin, Texas, rules in favor of timber interests, local landowners in dispute over proposed 72,000-acre Marvin Nichols Reservoir

LOS ANGELES , November 3, 2011 () – Timber interests and landowners who have battled for more than a decade against plans for a 72,000-acre reservoir in Northeast Texas scored a victory Monday when a district court judge in Austin ruled in their favor, the Bowie County Citizens Tribune reported on Nov. 3.

Ward Timber Co. in Linden was a plaintiff in the lawsuit heard Oct. 31 by District Judge Gisela D. Triana. The suit claimed the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) had created a conflict by adopting a plan for the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex water planning region supporting the building of the Marvin Nichols Reservoir, when it had already adopted a plan for North East Texas opposing it.

The lawsuit urged the TWDB be ordered to resolve the conflict but the plaintiffs did not seek damages, according to the Longview News-Journal on Nov. 2.

Texas is divided into 16 water planning regions that each submit plans for meeting water needs for the coming 50 years to the TWDB to be compiled into the state’s master plan, the News-Journal explained. Region C is the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex region, while Northeast Texas is Region D.

Under Texas water law, the TWDB has to work with the two regions to resolve any such conflict, and did not do so; it just adopted both plans, the Citizens Tribune noted.

The Region D plan claims the reservoir would adversely impact on the region’s farming and timber resources.

In her ruling, Judge Triana strongly stated that the people of Region C and the TWDB had work to do to resolve the conflict with Region D.

The proposed reservoir would flood an estimated 72,000 acres along the Sulfur River, mostly in Red River County, according to the Longview News-Journal. The four landowner-plaintiffs believe Dallas should explore other options before building it.

Ward Timber fears up to US$275 million of economic losses for Northeast Texas if the hardwood bottomland timber is lost, the News-Journal noted.

The Citizens Tribune quoted Ward Timber’s Bill Ward saying the plaintiffs were happy with the ruling that the TWDB approval of the Region C Plan must be reversed and given further consideration.

The primary sources of this article are the Bowie County Citizens Tribune, New Boston, Texas, Nov. 3, 2011, and the News-Journal, Longview, Texas, Nov. 2, 2011.

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