TOLEDO BEND RESERVOIR, TX/LA (KPLC) - A proposed contract to sell water from Toledo Bend Reservoir to Texas is raising concerns among residents, farmers and coastal activists, water districts and others.
And the Louisiana Governor's Office has expressed concern the Sabine River Authority's timeline on approving the contract moves too quickly. The thirteen-member authority is scheduled to make a final recommendation on the contract January 26.
The Toledo Bend Reservoir used to look much different from the way it does today, offering a wide variety of recreational activities. But the severe drought of the past year or so has drastically changed conditions as Sonny Mason can tell you. Sonny has a place at Toledo Bend. "I hadn't been able to run my boat in the lake for over a year. Pontoons and boat houses, they've been high and dry for over a year now."
That's part of the reason Mason opposes a contract to sell water to Texas. He says Louisiana may one day need that water and believes the Louisiana Sabine River Authority is moving way too fast on the deal. "The Sabine River Authority is proposing to sell to the State of Texas 660-thousand acre-feet of water and a contract that would amount to a 99-year contract taking water from the lake. Water will be shipped by pipeline to Dallas."
That could yield nearly $55 million dollars a year for the authority. Louisiana State Senator Ronnie Johns (R-Sulphur), has rescinded a letter of support he wrote in favor of the concept of selling water to Texas. "I now have a lot of concerns about the contract itself and so, with that in mind, I did rescind my letter of support to the governor," said Johns.
He agrees there are too many unanswered questions. "In the long run it may be a good thing for the lake, but the devil is always in the details. There are things in the contract people have some concern about, one being it's a 99-year contract the other being a guarantee of a water level on the lake,"said Johns.
If the SRA approves the contract January 26th, it will be up to the Governor Bobby Jindal whether to approve it. At this point the governor opposes the proposal.
If you want to read the 87-page contract click here. You can click here for a public comment form to fill out to send in your views. Also, there's a meeting we're told that the SRA will hold at 6 p.m. Thursday, January 12 at Cypress Bend Marina.
The contract would be between the SRA and a group of Texas and Louisiana investors known as TB Partners.