Water Development Plans Threaten Historic Home

An aggressive water plan that benefits the Dallas-Metroplex, could cost some East Texans their homes.

If the state approves the Marvin Nichols Reservoir project, a new lake and dam will cover thousands of acres near the Sulphur River, outside Mount Pleasant. Dallas will then own 80 percent of the reservoir's water. However, hundreds of East Texas homes and businesses would be destroyed.

The North East Texas Water Planning Group met Wednesday afternoon to decide if they would keep the project on their current water plan, or remove it. The members decided to delay the vote another month, so concerned citizens could voice their opinions.

One of the project's potential casualties is a historical landmark on the cusp of Red River and Bowie Counties. The home is now owned by Dickey Dalby, whose ancestors settled the land back in the 1840s.

The wall to Dalby's living room is actually the exterior to his great-great uncle's log cabin. The Dalby family managed to add on to the home, without destroying the cabin's original structure.

But inevitably, water planners and state government will decide if the home remains.

"In another 10 to 15 years, where we are standing will be under water," Dalby says. "They're taking my water rights. Even though the State of Texas owns all surface water rights, in order for them to capitalize on the surface water, they have to take my land."

Dalby and other property owners in his county are trying to stop the Marvin Nichols project from even beginning.

"We finally got several other elected officials to say there hasn't been enough studies on the project, adds Dalby. "We want them to put (the project) on the back burner until they've proven Dallas needs the water and can't get the water anywhere else, only then we'll reopen the issue."

The next water meeting will be held on December 4th, in Mount Pleasant. Even if the project is removed from the North East Texas water plan, Dallas can still recommend the project to fill its own water needs.

Inevitably, the state gets the final say on what water plans are approved.