Watershed Protection

What is a watershed?

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.


Planning and initiatives

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. 


Planning and initiatives

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


Planning and initiatives

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.

Which #TRWDwatershed are you in?



Planning and initiatives

About Eagle Mountain Lake’s Watershed

Eagle Mountain Lake is located northwest of Fort Worth, and is a major water supply reservoir for Fort Worth and surrounding cities. The Eagle Mountain Lake watershed is 869 square miles in size and includes parts of Tarrant, Parker, Wise, Jack, Montague, and Clay Counties. This largely rural watershed is dominated by range and grassland as well as a growing suburban population.

The goal of the Eagle Mountain Lake WPP is to slow algae growth in the lake by reducing phosphorus contributions to the lake by 30%. The WPP reflects input from many partners and stakeholders to address agricultural and urban sources throughout the watershed, and is based on scientific and economic studies presented in the WPP Modeling Report.
The Eagle Mountain Lake Conservation Initiative is a partnership between the NRCS, Wise SWCD, Wise County WCID1, Wise County Commissioners Court, and TRWD to address agricultural sources of sediment and nutrients to the lake. The purpose of the initiative is to enhance technical assistance and conservation planning in the Eagle Mountain Lake Watershed and to encourage implementation of agricultural conservation systems to address water quality resource concerns. The partnership is committed to reducing levels of nutrient and sediment runoff throughout the watershed.
Partnerships are critical to protecting water quality and watersheds. Some of the partners in the Eagle Mountain Lake watershed are listed here.

Save Eagle Mountain Lake
Wise Soil & Water Conservation District
Wise County Water Control & Impr Dist #1
Wise County Commissioners Court
USDA‐Natural Resources Conservation Service
Texas Grazing Land Coalition
Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension


Planning and initiatives

About Cedar Creek Lake’s Watershed

Located in Henderson and Kaufman counties, Cedar Creek Lake is the eastern‐most lake in the TRWD system. It’s 1,007 square mile watershed extends across portions of Henderson, Kaufman, Van Zandt and Rockwall Counties. The majority of the watershed is agricultural, but urbanization is expanding in the upper reaches and in the Interstate 20 corridor. The concerted effort to develop WPPs for TRWD watersheds was initiated in 2003, with targeted federal support of research and educational personnel and activities beginning in 2009.

In an effort to address water quality issues caused by nutrients and sediment in the lake, local citizens, elected officials, and agency representatives came together to develop the foundation for a comprehensive, stakeholder‐based WPP. The plan combines the strategic use of structural best management practices and education and outreach programming for targeted audiences within the watershed. Information from these studies will be compiled into a WPP document in the coming months.
Utilizing complimentary computer models allowed watershed planners to analyze the source and degree of pollutants and to illustrate past, present and future reservoir conditions resulting from various management scenarios. Economic evaluations of proposed management solutions demonstrate the most efficient use of project funds to foster improvement in reservoir water quality.
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Partners and stakeholders are key to water quality and watershed protection. Below are some of the key stakeholders in guiding development of the planning studies and WPP.

City of Athens
City of Gunbarrel
City of Kaufman
City of Kemp
City of Mabank
City of Terrell
City of Tool
Henderson County
Kaufman County
Van Zandt County
Trinity‐Neches SWCD
Kaufman, Van Zandt, Rockwall SWCD
Residents, Businesses, Consultants
Landowners and Agricultural Producers


Planning and initiatives
Lake Arlington is located in southeast Tarrant county and is owned and operated by the city of Arlington, a major TRWD water customer. The lake is a “terminal storage,” or delivery point for water from TRWD’s eastern reservoirs to the city of Arlington and the Trinity River Authority. The 143 square mile watershed drains portions of Tarrant and Johnson counties and includes a patchwork of urban and rural areas including Burleson, Kennedale, and Fort Worth, while the shores of the lake are shared by Fort Worth and Arlington. Urban areas dominate the northern end of the watershed, with a few industrial and municipal complexes near its center, and trending more towards agricultural use in the southern extent. Although inputs from TRWD supplies comprise a portion of the water in Lake Arlington, the lake is also influenced by water from springs, stormwater runoff and tributaries within the Village Creek watershed. In 2011 the city of Arlington developed a Master Plan for the lake, with the goals of protecting water quality and managing the increasing pressures of a growing population. This plan provides the foundation for a Watershed Protection Plan currently being developed by the Trinity River Authority, in conjunction with the city of Arlington and other jurisdictions and stakeholders in the watershed.
Lake Worth is located in western Tarrant county and is a major water supply for the city of Fort Worth. Situated just downstream of the Eagle Mountain Lake dam, Lake Worth’s water quality is influenced by flows from upstream, as well as an additional 85 square miles of watershed extending into portions of Tarrant and Parker counties. With the intent to protect water quality by reducing pollutant loads from the contributing area while enhancing recreational opportunities in the Lake Worth Watershed, the North Central Texas Council of Governments (NCTCOG) and The Trust for Public Land partnered to work with the City of Fort Worth and a local citizen advisory committee (The Lake Worth Regional Coordination Committee, the LWRCC) to develop a Greenprint for the lake.


TRWD is continually working to enhance the quality of our rivers and lakes, both of which are sources of drinking water and popular water recreation destinations.

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The TRWD watershed program strives to educate and inform local stakeholders and the public about their watershed, potential threats, and steps that can be taken to help improve and protect water quality.

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Watershed Program Manager
Tina Hendon

Watershed Coordinator
Sarah Grella