Riverbend was created for the purpose of providing a regional governance structure for water resources in order to protect the ownership and distribution of the water resources of the region and take leadership of the regional water infrastructure issues facing the region.
Why do we need Riverbend?
Currently, about fifty-three percent of the Texarkana area population live outside Texarkana, Arkansas and Texarkana, Texas. As the population increases outside of the Texarkana city limits, demand for representation on regional water matters will increase among the areas water user groups. Over the past 70 years, this region has done a good job of preserving and managing our water resources. Within the last few decades, however, the Sulphur River Basin, has been identified as the most underutilized river basin in the state. As surface waters of the state are constitutionally owned by the state, a number of outside entities have expressed growing interests in developing our regional water resources. In order for this region to continue to be successful in preserving and managing our water water resources at a local level, we must more proactively plan for our future.
At the state planning level, the system is designed and intended to be done at the local level in a bottom-up process. If you look throughout the state of Texas, you will find that most aspects of water management and planning are done on at the local and regional basis. Water districts like Riverbend are common throughout Texas, especially in areas where large amounts of water are available like is the case in the Sulphur Basin. This is encouraging to us, as long as we remain active participants in the process.
Today, Riverbend is the vehicle that allows the communities of this region to unite and speak with one collective voice. The origins of Riverbend today can be found in this area's past regional water partnerships such as when our local communities came together on Wright Patman Lake and formed the Lake Texarkana Water Supply Corporation. Riverbend is the only governing body in this region that offers a forum of equitable representation for the Member Entities on our regional water matters, and more specifically at this end of the Sulphur River Basin. The Member Entities who wish to take part in Riverbend have influence in the District’s finances, policies, deciton-making, and authority.
We all have stake in water and we all need a way to have a local seat at the decision-making table. Riverbend allows our local stakeholders a way to evaluate and plan for water on a regional basis. It is just not feasible or effective to manage water piece-meal. If we are going to remain local control of our water, we must work together. Riverbend allows us to do just that.
How does Riverbend help our area?
The top priority for Riverbend right now is to maintain local control of our source water in Wright Patman Lake. Wright Patman plays an indispensable role in the lives and economy of this region. Riverbend understands how important it is to maintain local control of Wright Patman and how important it is to effectively manage it moving forward. It is important that we honor the significant historical sacrifices made by area landowners for both Wright Patman and Cooper Reservoir. We do that by fully utilizing Wright Patman and maintaining local control of the water rights that are afforded from it.
Cass County is the newest member of Riverbend and their partnership helps bolster our case for remaining local sponsor on Wright Patman as it is now wholly contained within the boundaries of Riverbend. Riverbend should continue to grow as we move forward.
Another top priority for Riverbend is to put together a comprehensive regional water master plan for this area. This is something that has never been done. We need sound data on our water needs in terms of infrastructure, source water, etc…that will allow Riverbend to help our local communities effectively and efficiently manage and provide for their water needs now and in the future. This effort is currently underway.