Maxwell: City of Texarkana’s Superior Water Use Request Could Impact Cooper Lake, Regional Water Supply
While most of the Sulphur Springs City Council July 6 agenda appears fairly routine, with the exception of two items: one would start the process to protect the area water rights and another could provide funding to advance development on the old Thermo mine property.
Water Use Permit
The Sulphur Springs City Council will be asked to approve a resolution authorizing the city to “intervene in a water use permit application” submitted by the City of Texarkana to Texas Commission on Environmental Quality for superior water rights.
The “Notice of An Application For A Water Use Permit: Application No 13642” would “to authorize the diversion and use of 175,000 acre-feet of water per year from Wright Patman Reservoir on the Sulphur River, Sulphur River Basin for municipal, industrial, mining, and agricultural purposes within its service area in Bowie, Cass, and Red River counties, in the Sulphur, Cypress, and Red River Basins.”
Texarkana already has superior water rights for Wright Patman. The recently requested TCEQ permit would allow an additional 175,000 acre-feet of water per year to be diverted from the Sulphur River Basin, Cypress Creek Basin and Red River Basin, from the perimeter of Wright Patman Reservoir for municipal, industrial, agricultural and mining water uses for Bowie, Cass and Red River Counties.
That, Sulphur Springs City Manager Marc Maxwell said, could enable drafting by Texarkana which would pull from Cooper Lake during times of drought. Drafting of the full amount could potentially drain Cooper Lake, causing a water shortage not only in Sulphur Springs, Hopkins and surrounding counties, but across the region who are able to get water from the lake, including the City of Irving and a regional municipal water district, according to Maxwell.
If the City Council agrees, the City of Sulphur Springs will apply to TCEQ demanding a contested hearing of the permit.
“Water is supremely important,” Maxwell said. “They are requesting a $175,000 acre-feet feed. That’s the size of Cooper Lake. They’d have superior water rights. They already have about 180,000 acre-feet of pre-existing water rights. The way this is structured this would be adding the new to the old.”
Maxwell anticipates others who are authorized to receive water from Cooper Lake which comes from the basin likely will also join the petition to block the water use permit submitted to TCEQ by the City of Texarkana, as the permit could affect their ability to obtain water as well.
The City Council also Tuesday evening will be asked to consider authorizing the city manager or a designee to prepare and submit two applications for Rebuilding America Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) grant funding available through the U.S. Department of Transportation.
The funding, Maxwell noted, would be used for planning and infrastructure on the old Thermo mine property, which would advance development on the property.
Sulphur Springs City Council is slated to begin the evening at 6:30 p.m. with an executive session to discuss “personnel matters as it pertains to the positions of Human Resources Director Gordon Frazier, Finance Director Lesa Smith, and Community Development Director Tory Niewiadmoski.”
According to Texas Government Code, Title 5, Chapter 551, Section 551.074, that allows the council in closed session to “deliberate the appointment, employment, evaluation, reassignment, duties, discipline, or dismissal of a public officer or employee; or to hear a complaint or charge against an officer or employee.”
The City Council then is slated to begin the regular open portion of the monthly meeting at 7 p.m. at City Hall, and if the discussed personnel item is forwarded for action, would take action on it during the open session.
Other Agenda Items
The July 6 agenda also includes items asking the City Council to consider:
- Two requests for 380 infill housing agreements, which would allow a single family dwelling to be constructed at 216 Craig Street and another at 340 Putman Street, if approved;
- Authorizing the city manger to open an Edward Jones account in which to receive securities donations;
- Allocation of funds for an outdoor fitness court for Pacific Park as part of the 2021 National Fitness Campaign;
- Consent agenda: May and June council and city board meeting minutes
- Presentations, proclamations and announcements;
- Manager’s report, which includes a status report of capital improvements, wastewater treatment plant operations, accidents and claims for the month, and a review (by finance director) of expenditures and revenues; and
- Public forum, during which visitors and citizens may address the City Council directly.