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Roy Hamric Logrolling in D.C. By Don Gardner Washington, D.C. In an effort to revitalize the $2 billion Trinity River master plan, the Trinity River Authority and the Trinity Improvement Association gathered their political might and, during the first week in April, went begging to the federal government to bail them out. At the annual House and Senate subcommittee hearings on public works appropriations in Washington, D.C., the TRA requested $1 million to begin immediate land acquisition for the Tennessee Colony Reservoir dam site. This was a surprise move, announced only three days earlier at a special meeting of the TRA board in Palestine. Since voters in the Trinity River basin defeated the master plan bond proposal in 1973, the TRA has had to scrounge to keep the plan from becoming inactive. For the past two years the feds have doled out only $800,000 a year. The same amount was budgeted for fiscal year 1977. With its Aubrey Lake, Lakeview Lake, and Wallisville Lake projects in limbo, the TRA is “desperate” to get some action rolling. For the TRA and its backers this is the showdown. They don’t have any big action on and this is what they’ve come up with, after three years of slick maneuvering, to keep the show rolling. If they can get this $1 million they will at least be started on Tennessee Colony. The writer lives on a farm in the Trinity River basin in San Jacinto County. He was one of the people who went to Washington to oppose the TRA master plan. The kink in this particular TRA maneuver is, again, financing. In its surprise $1 million request, the TRA asked that Tennessee Colony Reservoir be separated from the rest of the Trinity River project in the federal budget. Guy Jackson, TRA board member from Anahuac, said in the Authority’s presentation to the subcommittees, “This [separating Tennessee Colony]would be compatible with federal law and the Authority’s master plan review. The report of the Board of Engineers for Rivers and Harbors …states that any one of those projects `may be undertaken independently of the others whenever funds for that purpose are available and the prescribed local cooperation has been furnished.’ ” The TRA and TIA are working hard in Navarro, Freestone, Henderson, and Anderson Counties, the site of the 150,000 acre reservoir. All four county judges testified before the Congressional subcommittees on behalf of the project. All four counties voted for the 1973 bond proposal. Tennessee Colony, should it be built, will cost around $408,000,000, according to the TRA. The TRA has promised to reimburse the federal government $116,882,000 for the water supply portion of the costs. The TRA contract also obligates locals to pay $2,229,000 every year for operation and maintenance. In other words the TRA wants to finance Tennessee Colony as they are financing other East. and North Texas lakes. The strategy is based on future need for large supplies of water. In fact, the whole plan rests on that assumption. Once the water is impounded, it can be sold and the feds repaid. “Under the Water Supply Act of 1958 we have a great deal of flexibility in working out the financing,” said TRA general manager David Brune. “We have 50 years to pay and we don’t have to start until the water is impounded.” But for now the master plan backers need a start. Projects which haven’t been started after eight years are put on the Army Corps of Engineers’ inactive list and are no longer budgeted. The failure of TRA’s bond vote in 1973 revealed TRA’s most vital weaknessfinancing its projects. The federal government required “local interests” to furnish approximately 10 percent of project costs. Heretofore it was commonly believed that “local” meant the people living in the vicinity of a project. It turns out that in the contracts the TRA has signed with the United States, the TRA is the local interest. Because the TRA is a state agency, it now appears possible that the TRA can receive funds through other state agencies, such as the Texas Water Developnent Board. The TWDB has a $400 million bond proposal on the November ballot. So, local support isn’t needed at all. The most controversial and most expensive project in the master plan is the barge canal which would link Dallas/Ft. Worth with the Gulf. Part and parcel of the TRA’s recent move to begin Tennessee Colony is that the maneuver also keeps the canal idea alive, although TRA denies this and insists that canalization is being dropped. Tennessee Colony Reservoir will make about 100 miles of the river navigable. The dam will also, if built, contain locks. Whatever for? While master-plan backers were trying to focus everyone’s attention on long-range water demands, the hearings turned up a couple of surprise witnesses, who stole the show. It seems that massive lignite deposits sit smack dab under the Tennessee Colony Reservoir site. Rumors about the lignite deposits have been circulating for several months. Dow Chemical and the North American -Coal Company let the cat out of the bag at the hearings. An estimated $5 billion \(yes, bilflooded by Tennessee Colony. C. R. Miercourt, assistant to the president of North American Coal, testified that the “scheduling of the reservoir must [emphasis added] include provisions that will allow for the orderly development of this much-needed energy resource.” How long will it take to get 500 million tons of coal from the midTrinity River bottoms? Miercourt, at first, said, “no comment,” but, when pressed further by the press, said reluctantly, “35 to 40 years.” Because the lignite is relatively low grade, it seems likely that the coal companies will want to build the generating plants on the site in order to save transportation costs. The TRA is already trying to dissipate the effect of the lignite mining on Tennessee Colony. At the TRA’s hearing in Corsicana May 7, 1976 9