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TCEQ Ignores Judge’s Recommendation, Grants Permit for Lake Ringgold

Updated: 5 days ago

On May 10, 2024, The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) granted a permit to the City of Wichita Falls to build the proposed 16,000-acre Lake Ringgold in neighboring rural Clay County. This despite a strong recommendation by the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) who took testimony on the permit that the permit be denied.

“TCEQ has a long history of rubber-stamping reservoir projects,” said TCA’s Senior Policy Advisor Janice Bezanson. “We had hope of a better decision this time because the evidence presented in the hearing on the permit so clearly shows that the reservoir isn’t needed. And the ALJ agreed with us.”

TCA’s opposition to Lake Ringgold is far from over and we will continue to fight for the rights of landowners and wildlife every step of the way. Says Janice, “TCA and the landowners plan to file an appeal in district court seeking to overturn the TCEQ permit.” And Wichita Falls must obtain a federal permit to build Lake Ringgold. Many of the same issues that led the judge to recommend denial will be raised again in the Environmental Impact Statement required for the federal permit.”

There are several reasons why Lake Ringgold is a bad idea:

HIGH COST:  Lake Ringgold has a price tag of $443 million [Cost Estimate]. Once the interest and operating costs are added, residents of Wichita Falls and its customer cities will pay over a billion dollars for the project.

NO PUBLIC VOTE:  The City would likely borrow the money for Lake Ringgold from the State of Texas [SWIFT Fund] so there would be no need for a bond election. The people would have no opportunity to vote on the lake – they’ll just get to pay for it.

IMPACTS ON RANCHING:  Lake Ringgold would inundate 16,000 acres of productive ranch land and take more than 40,000 acres off county tax rolls. The City already owns 6,662 acres of the land, but more than forty ranching families would be forced to sell all or part of their land for the remainder.

IMPACTS ON WILDLIFE:  The environmental impacts would be enormous. Thousands of acres of bottomland and rare tallgrass prairie would be inundated, lands that currently support deer, quail, turkey, and other wildlife. More than 1,000 acres of never-plowed tallgrass prairie would be lost. Native tallgrass prairie is one of the most endangered ecosystems in the country, with only about 1% of the original prairie remaining.

If you live in Wichita Falls, urge your city council member to withdraw pursuit of the Lake Ringgold project. If you know anyone who lives in Wichita Falls, ask them to contact their city council member.


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