Shreveport Mayor Urges TNRCC Not to Amend Marshall's Water Permit
Mayor Joins Caddo Lake Coalition's Request to Fully Replace Water
During a Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission (TNRCC) public meeting on Tuesday night, the City of Shreveport, La., urged the State of Texas to consider Louisiana's interest in Caddo Lake before allowing the City of Marshall to pump more water from the lake, which is located on the shared border of both states.
The TNRCC is currently considering an amendment to the City of Marshall's water permit allowing Marshall to sell up to 5.5 million gallons of Caddo Lake water per day to Entergy, Inc., who wants to build a power plant south of the city without a working, funded water mitigation program in place. The amendment is opposed by the Caddo Lake Coalition, comprised of the City of Uncertain, Texas, the Caddo Lake Chamber of Commerce, the Caddo Lake Institute, and the Greater Caddo Lake Association.
The biggest bombshell of the evening came near the end of the three-hour meeting, when H.M. Strong, the director of operations for the City of Shreveport, stood up and read a letter signed by Shreveport Mayor Keith Hightower. Caddo Lake is a secondary source of drinking water for the City of Shreveport.
"Since Caddo Lake is an interstate water body and is subject to the provisions of the Red River Compact, the City respectfully requests that the TNRCC involve the Red River Compact Commission in its review of this and any other matter involving Caddo Lake prior to making a formal ruling, in order that neither the letter nor spirit of the Compact, including its implementing rules and regulations, would be violated by such ruling(s) or by any actions taken by others in reliance upon such ruling(s)," Hightower wrote.
He went on to note, "The City further respectfully requests that the TNRCC take the appropriate steps to ensure that all withdrawals from Caddo Lake and its tributaries are properly permitted, that the terms of such permits are being followed, and that all withdrawals are accurately monitored and accounted for."
This was the first time the City of Shreveport has weighed in on the water dispute between residents of Caddo Lake and the City of Marshall, which has applied to the TNRCC for amendments to its water permit seeking to broaden its water rights to provide for industrial use of the raw water it pumps from the Cypress Creek Basin. Marshall currently is limited to using raw water for municipal purposes only.
Marshall also is seeking an amendment to allow it to continue its decades-old practice of replacing water pumped from the Cypress Creek Basin into the Sabine Basin, a violation of its current water permit. On November 2, the TNRCC formally notified the City of Marshall that it is in violation of its existing permit, which requires the city to return the water to Cypress Creek.
Most of the other comments came from residents of Caddo Lake and Marshall who are opposed to the City of Marshall's plan because they believe it will not fully replace all the water the city will pump from Caddo Lake.
"We are not opposed to Entergy's power plant or the City of Marshall's goal to find a new source of revenue," said Jack Canson, a Marshall resident and member of the Caddo Lake Coalition. "But we want to ensure the City of Marshall will fully replace the water that it takes from Caddo Lake to ensure the state's only naturally-formed lake and the tourism it generates will not be harmed."
In addition to addressing a number of economic and environmental concerns, the Caddo Lake Coalition distributed copies of letters from two independent environmental and engineering firms whose hydrologic analyses maintain that the City of Marshall's plan falls short. The firms said the City of Marshall's proposed agreement would not fully replace the water taken from the Cypress Creek Basin, which feeds into Caddo Lake, nor would it guarantee a long-term funding source to purchase replacement water that might be needed to make up for water shortfalls.
Both of these issues have been sticking points in the months-long negotiations between the Caddo Lake Coalition, the City of Marshall and Entergy, along with a desire by the coalition to establish an independent panel of scientists to monitor any agreed-to water replacement plan.
The information presented at Tuesday's public meeting will be shared with Jeffrey Saitas, the executive director of the TNRCC, who will consider the numerous comments as he makes a final decision about the City of Marshall's permit amendment.