EAST TEXAS (KTRE) - The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers withdrew a request for a permit to build the Lake Columbia Regional Water Supply Reservoir Project.
It was a decision the Angelina and Neches River Authority didn't expect.
"We're still a little shocked and stunned by this," said ANRA General Manager Kelley Holcomb.
"It is a very important project for East Texas and I fully support Lake Columbia and we made great strides in moving it forward," said State Representative Travis Clardy. "I'm disappointed in the decision that the Corp has made, but it really is an administrative decision."
The Lake Columbia Water Supply Reservoir Project has been in the works for almost 40 years. What started out as an industrial project became a municipal water supply plan for East Texas.
"We have enjoyed a lot of public support over the years," Holcom said. "That support has not really faltered."
Holcomb said the lake would benefit East Texas, specifically Cherokee County where it is located, East of Jacksonville. It will generate municipal and recreational revenue, while also conserving land.
"What's paying for the water supply on one side and the conservation on the other side is economic development," Holcomb explained. "The data that came out of the first EIS report showed $33 million a year just for recreational revenue, for having the lake located where it is."
Lake Columbia would also allow East Texas to generate revenue by supplying water to other parts of the state that are in need.
The Corps of Engineers stated that relative inactivity in the project for the past three years contributed to the permit withdrawal. However, ANRA is already working with the corps to get the project back on track.
"I'm encouraged that when they look at it, take a glance and refocus on the right issues, we'll get the support of our federal counterpart," Travis said.
ANRA has 90 days to rescind the withdrawal. Both Clardy and Travis believe the decision will be rescinded.