Presenter: Jeff Gunnels

Commission Agenda Item No. 10
Richland-Chambers Wetlands Water Reuse Project
May 24, 2007

I. Executive Summary: This item presents an overview of the collaborative effort between the department and the Tarrant Regional Water District to develop a wetlands area that can also be used as a water supply.

II. Discussion: The Richland Creek Wildlife Management Area was created in 1987 when the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department acquired nearly 14,000 acres as mitigation for the loss of bottomland hardwood habitat resulting from the construction of Richland-Chambers Reservoir. Primary objectives for the area include management and research of wetland habitat and providing additional outdoor recreational opportunities for the public.

In 1996, TPWD entered into a partnership with the Tarrant Regional Water District to develop up to 2,000 acres of wetlands on the North Unit of the Richland Creek WMA. The objective of the wetlands is to facilitate filtration of raw water drawn from the Trinity River. As the water makes its way across native plant communities, sediment and pollutants are removed so the water can be reused as a water supply. Under the cooperative initiative, TPWD provides expert input on management of wetland plant communities and strategic placement of constructed public use facilities. TRWD assumes all costs for the $30 million project, including construction, operation and maintenance of the project.

The Field Scale Phase of the wetland water reuse project was constructed during 2000-2002 and covers about 250 acres. An additional 1,750 acres of wetlands are scheduled for completion by 2010. This wetland project is considered a national model for providing public water supplies without the construction of additional flat-water reservoirs, thereby reducing the destruction of bottomland hardwoods and the subsequent loss of important wildlife habitat. This project is an example of cooperative conservation efforts yielding a more environmentally friendly approach to providing public water supplies that we hope to see repeated elsewhere across Texas.