Ranchers Speak Out Against Lake Ringgold

WICHITA FALLS, TX - The Wichita Falls City Council voted to move forward with Lake Ringgold.

At Tuesday's meeting -- they authorized the city manager to file an application with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality for the lake.

Wichita Falls owns about a third of the footprint of the lake -- around 6,500 of 17,000 acres.

But Clay County rancher, Deborah Clark, said it would impact roughly 1,500 acres of her 14,000 acre operation.

"What the critical point is.... is that it divides our ranch into three pieces and it destroys the way that we currently operate on that piece of range land," Clark said.

A consulting firm studied the land and put together research for the application process.

But Clark said this environmental study only included a small portion of the entire lake's footprint, because ranchers denied the firm access to survey their property.

Clark also said the city's $300 million price tag on the lake is under estimated.

"They are not the land prices of tomorrow or ten years from now or fifteen years from now, when the acquisitions will be made. So that's a burden on tax payers in this area," Clark said.

But despite that burden, Mayor Stephen Santellana said the city council has to think about the larger impact.

"When you have 25 people. Anything that we do -- we almost have to think about the greater good. If we have a hundred thousand citizens -- especially Sheppard Air Force Base and Midwestern State University -- these people have all relied on an adequate water source," Santellana said.

While Clark said she deeply respects the city's water conservation efforts, she believes they could work together or find alternative solutions.

"But I also believe that based on the innovation.... that the city of Wichita Falls has done.... that there will be new technological advances .... there will be new sources of water. I hear what's being said now, but over the course of the next 20 to 30 years -- I think that there will be new ways become available," Clark said. 

Councilor, DeAndra Chenault, voted against it after hearing the concerns of these ranchers.

As for the TCEQ application -- once it is submitted and verified, the next step in this process will be getting certification that the discharge of water will comply with state water quality standards.

From there, construction on Lake Ringgold would not be complete for another 30 to 40 years.


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