Texas ranchers may lose property to eminent domain water project

Ranchers and farmers in North Texas are angered over the prospect of losing their land and homes through an eminent domain taking for a new reservoir. One rancher estimates that 200 people will lose their property while the water will go to the Dallas area.

Bob Price


For the first time in nearly 20 years, a new water reservoir will be built in North Texas. Officials with the North Texas Municipal Water District (NTMWD) claim the Bois d’Arc Creek Reservoir will provide water for 1.7 million people, Paul Cobler reported for KERA News and the Texas Tribune. Critics point out the water will not be used for the rural counties in North Texas but will instead be piped to the rapidly growing Metroplex.

Bonham City Manager Sean Pate points out the economic boom a new lake would bring to the area.

Pate equated the reservoir’s construction project to an “oil boom” as construction crews flock to the area. “Then, we expect people to stay because of … Texans’ fascination with lakes. This is going to create a lot of changes in our community,” Pate said.

Not all of those changes are seen as positive.

Harold “Thump” Witcher, Jr., is a farmer in Fannin County will likely lose his land located inside the boundaries of the planned lake. He will not be among those who expect property value increases due to waterfront features.

Witcher says there is already enough water.

“They just want to build this reservoir for inessential uses. They want to turn it around and take people’s farm and ranch land away so people can water their lawns.”

Witcher and the other people who live and work in what will soon become a lake bed are out of options as the Army Corps of Engineers issued the federal permit in February allowing the water district to begin the construction process. One of the first steps will be to condemn the properties that are in the way of construction through the application of eminent domain.

KERA reported that the beneficiaries of the lake’s construction will see an increase in housing values and Fannin County could experience economic growth of about $20 million per year.

City Manager Pate admitted that city and county officials are excited about the reservoir despite the “adjustments to daily life” that might be needed. He proclaimed that boaters, fishers, and sightseers will be drawn to the new lake. “There’s just too much good to come from a project like this that it outweighs any of the drawbacks,” he explained.

Read the full article here

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