A watershed is an area of land that water flows over on its way to streams, rivers, and reservoirs. What happens in our watersheds affects the quality of water downstream. Protecting our watersheds is an integral part of protecting water supplies and ensuring safe drinking water.
What is a WPP?
Watershed Protection Plans (WPPs) are stakeholder‐driven strategies to address local water quality issues. WPPs are coordinated frameworks for determining pollutant sources, identifying practices that address these sources, and a coordinating an approach to carry out water quality protection and restoration efforts. Plans developed or currently underway in Eagle Mountain, Cedar Creek and Richland‐Chambers Lakes will address growing water quality issues and protect these important regional drinking water supplies from further degradation.
TRWD has actively supported responsible watershed management for almost 50 years, beginning with federal and local agencies in the Big Sandy Creek portion of the Eagle Mountain Lake watershed. More recently, TRWD worked diligently to gain state and federal recognition of the importance of watersheds in protecting drinking water supplies. Through this support and subsequent funding, the first in‐depth studies to identify watershed‐based stressors and solutions were conducted in TRWD watersheds. These studies were the precursor to TRWD’s existing Watershed Program.
Today, the program focuses on scientifically sound, stakeholder‐driven strategies to implement sustainable and economically feasible land management and educational initiatives that protect TRWD drinking water supplies and the Trinity River within the bounds of the Fort Worth Federal Floodway System.
About Richland-Chambers Lake’s Watershed
Richland‐Chambers Lake is located southeast of Dallas and is the third largest inland reservoir by surface to lie entirely within the state. Constructed in the late 1980’s, it’s vast watershed drains almost 2,000 square miles of mostly rural area and provides a significant percent of the total TRWD water supply.
Agriculture was the predominant land use in the region beginning in the late 1800’s, and by the early 1940’s the area suffered from soil depletion and erosion due to non‐conservation farming practices and climatic events of the 1930’s. The efforts of local farmers to control soil loss and flooding of land along the creeks was address by the USDA in the 1960’s with major channelization and re‐routing of Chambers and Mill Creeks, major tributaries to Richland‐Chambers lake. Shortly after the lake was constructed, TRWD joined with local, state, and federal entities to identify cost‐ effective and efficient agricultural practices and best management practices to address sediment and nutrient contributions from the watershed.
Today, TRWD and others continue to assist local agencies, such as the Ellis‐Prairies and Navarro County Soil & Water Conservation Districts in helping agricultural producers implement conservation practices that will hold soil on fields and reduce storm water runoff.
Similar to many reservoirs in the state, water quality in Richland‐Chambers is affected by nutrient and sediment runoff from the watershed which boost algae growth and decrease holding capacity. Currently, TRWD is working with Texas A&M AgriLife Research to conduct studies that will provide the scientific foundation for a stakeholder‐driven WPP. Stakeholder meetings are anticipated to begin in 2016.
In 2012, the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) announced a new Water Quality Initiative
committed to improving water quality by providing targeted assistance to farmers, ranchers and forest landowners in the Chambers Creek watershed above Richland‐Chambers Reservoir. This national initiative received attention from business and nonprofit organizations such as Miller‐Coors and the Sand County Foundation, spurring them to invest in the program.
About Lake Bridgeport’s Watershed
Lake Bridgeport is the upper‐most impoundment on the West Fork of the Trinity River and is situated in western Wise County. It’s 1,111 square mile watershed covers parts of Wise, Jack, Clay, Archer and Young counties. This watershed is largely rural, with primarily ranchland and agricultural activities.
Lake Bridgeport exhibits the best quality water of reservoirs in the TRWD system. Because of the high water quality and lack of pressures in the watershed, there are currently no plans to develop a Watershed Protection Plan for Lake Bridgeport.
In spite of its largely rural nature and sparse populations, some historic activities have had negative effects on water quality of the West Fork Trinity above Lake Bridgeport. Efforts by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) and the Texas Railroad Commission (RRC) have been successful in addressing localized sources of oilfield pollutants.
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Through its Regional Ecosystem Framework (REF) for North Texas, the North Central Texas Council of Governments (NCTCOG) conducted meetings to gain stakeholder input for various regional initiatives. NCTCOG Lake Bridgeport Watershed Fact Sheet
About Benbrook Lake’s Watershed
Benbrook Lake is located on the Clear Fork of the Trinity River in southwest Tarrant county and is owned and operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The watershed is 429 square miles and drains portions of Tarrant, Johnson and Parker counties. Land use is still largely rural, but urban development is rapidly moving into several areas of the watershed.
In 1987, the Texas Water Commission granted TRWD a water rights permit for Benbrook Lake, which also allows the district to use the lake as storage for water piped in from Cedar Creek and Richland‐Chambers Lakes. Although TRWD doesn’t own or operate the reservoir, this action gave the district a vested interest in the quality of the water entering from the watershed.
Studies conducted in the Benbrook Lake watershed indicated future water quality impacts from increased wastewater flows due to the rapidly growing urban population. This information spurred TRWD to propose more stringent effluent limitations for new and amended municipal discharge permits issued in the watershed. In 2015 the TCEQ approved new rules which accomplished this goal. These new requirements are part of the Watershed Protection regulations in 30 TAC Chapter 311.