Region D - North East Texas
2005 Regional Water Plan Overview
|Longview (73,334), Texarkana (34,782), Paris (25,898)|
|Average Municipal Water Use||2000 137 gallons per capita daily (statewide average = 160 GPCD)|
|Total Water Use: 2000||487,815 Acre-Feet|
|Total Water Use: 2060||838,977 Acre-Feet|
|Primary Rivers||Sabine, Cypress, Sulphur, Red|
|Major Aquifers||Carrizo-Wilcox, Trinity|
|Annual Precipitation||40-47 Inches|
|Net Evaporation||16-32 Inches|
Basic Plan Facts
- Region D is projected to experience a 72% population increase by 2060 (compared to a 60% population increase reported in the last round of planning)
- Total capital cost of proposed water supply measures: $29.3 million (compared to $25.5 million in last round of planning)
- One major new reservoir proposed: Prairie Creek Reservoir (compared to 2 reservoirs last round of planning)
What's at Issue?
There are two notable areas of improvements in this update of the plan over the 2001 plan. The most significant is that the Marvin Nichols I Reservoir is no longer recommended as a water supply strategy. This is a major victory for the people of Region D who have fought tirelessly to show water planners in Region D and Region C that building Marvin Nichols Reservoir in order to supply Region C (specifically the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex) with additional water supplies before the Metroplex makes use of the water supply available via water conservation is not environmentally or economically sound water planning. They couldn't stand for planning to flood 72,000 acres of their rare bottomland hardwood and mixed post-oak forest, grasslands, and family farms when Region C hasn't made a concerted effort to reduce their water usage rates, which are the highest in the state. Unfortunately, Marvin Nichols reservoir remains as a recommended strategy in the Region C 2005 Initially Prepared Plan.
The Region D Water Planning Group even went one step further and recommends no reservoir should be built in the region unless all other viable water supply options, including advanced water conservation, have been exhausted. However, the plan then goes on to recommend building Prairie Creek Reservoir in Gregg and Smith counties which doesn't appear to be needed. This seems to be in direct conflict of the group's own recommendation. In addition, there are numerous natural resources that are important to the vitality of the region that are at risk from future development of this reservoir. State and federal agency listings for threatened, endangered, or rare plant or animal species indicate that seven bird, four fish, three mammal, one mollusk, four reptile, and one vascular plant species potentially occur or have habitat in or near the Prairie Creek Reservoir site.
The second notable area of improvement in this round of planning is that the Region D planning group set a municipal water conservation target for their region, and that target is fairly aggressive: to consider water conservation as a possible supply strategy when municipal usage was greater than 140 gallons-per-capita-per-day. However, in reading the fine print of the plan, the group didn't ever choose municipal or industrial water conservation as a recommended supply strategy.
Here are some of the items the Region D Planning Group must address.
Conservation and Drought Management
For conservation and drought management, the plan needs to...
- Always consider municipal water conservation as a possible supply strategy, regardless of what gallons-per-capita-per-day usage rates are.
- Consider industrial water conservation as a possible water supply strategy.
- Choose municipal and industrial water conservation as the recommended supply strategy when it is the cheapest and least environmentally damaging supply option.
- Consider drought management measures as a water supply strategy. Drought management measures aimed at reducing water demands during periods of unusually dry conditions are important components of good water management. From both an economic and ecological standpoint, it only makes sense to take steps to reduce non-essential uses of water (fountain filling, car washing, and lawn watering, for example) during times of serious shortage instead of spending vast sums of money to develop new supply sources that would be used to meet those non-essential water demands only during serious droughts. Senate Bill 2 and Texas Water Development Board rules mandate consideration and inclusion in regional plans of reasonable levels of drought management as water management strategies. However, the Region D plan does not even consider, much less include, drought management as a water supply strategy.
To secure the protection of flows for fish and wildlife, the plan needs to...
Wildlife Habitat and Farmland Protection
- Include 'the environment' as a water user in the planning process, and ensure enough water is provided to keep rivers flowing and bays healthy. In order for a water plan to be comprehensive, it needs to consider all water users, including fish and wildlife. The Region D plan does not do so.
- Evaluate the impacts to environmental flows of all proposed water supply strategies. A quantitative assessment of environmental flow impacts is necessary to make informed decisions when choosing which water supply strategies to recommend.
- Discuss how environmental flows are affected by current water supply projects and existing water permits.
- Recommend "unique stream segments" for designation. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department recommended 14 segments for designation in this region, but the planning group chose to recommend none of these.
- Avoid recommending construction of unnecessary reservoirs, such as Prairie Creek. Reservoirs disrupt the natural flow of rivers and can harm fish and wildlife habitat downstream. No specific need is identified for the water from Prairie Creek Reservoir.
To avoid destroying valuable wildlife habitat and productive farmland, the plan needs to...
- Be commended for not recommending any "unique reservoir sites" for designation. This is a significant improvement over the 2001 Region D plan which recommended 15 sites. Those sites include some of the best bottomland hardwood forests left in Texas.
- Avoid recommending construction of unnecessary reservoirs. No specific need is identified for the water from Prairie Creek Reservoir.
- Be heartily applauded for removing the recommendation for Marvin Nichols Reservoir. A new Legislative requirement is that water planning groups develop water management plans that are consistent with the long-term protection of the state's agricultural resources and natural resources. Building unnecessary and massive reservoir projects are incompatible with those goals.
To ensure the long term viability of the state's groundwater resources, the plan needs to...
- Have a goal of true sustainable groundwater management where average groundwater withdrawals do not exceed a rate which can be replenished through recharge on a continual basis while maintaining adequate spring flows. While the planning group states a goal of managing groundwater sustainably, it defines "sustainable" groundwater management as the amount that won't cause more than a 50 foot water level decline from year 2000 levels. This merits a much more in depth investigation and discussion of the impacts such a decline would have on the region's springs, rivers, and wildlife than is currently in the plan.
- Include information about the springs in the region and discuss how these can be protected.
To ensure that only the most economically sound water supply strategies are implemented, the plan needs to...
- Compare the costs of proposed water supply options in a consistent and reasonable manner. This should include municipal, agricultural and industrial water conservation, which is often the least expensive (and least environmentally damaging) supply option.
- Remove its recommendation that the Texas Water Development Board revise its rules to allow for greater flexibility in calculating future water demand. Water demand figures provide the baseline on which all planning is based. In order to produce fiscally accurate and responsible water plans, all regions need to use an equivalent basis for calculating future water demand. And because the plans are updated every 5 years, the ability to adapt planning in response to changing water demands already exists.
- Remove its recommendation that Texas Water Development Board revise its rules to allow multiple options be put forth as recommended water supply strategies for individual water user groups. The purpose of the planning exercise is to compare proposed options and choose a recommended approach. A "plan" can quickly become a "list" if multiple strategies are recommended.