A unique partnership in Wise County, Texas is helping protect the water quality and quantity of water supplies for Tarrant County and the surrounding area.

The West Fork of the Trinity River flows into Lake Bridgeport and Eagle Mountain Lake, which were built by the Tarrant Regional Water District (TRWD) as water supply for its customer cities in the north central Texas area. In order to protect these valuable drinking water sources, the TRWD works to protect the water resources in the watershed.

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“Reducing the amount of nutrients and sediment coming from the watershed reduces water treatment costs and protects the available water storage in our reservoirs,” says Tina Hendon, TRWD Watershed Program Manager.

“Lake Bridgeport and Eagle Mountain Lake are also important recreational areas, so the cleaner we can keep the water the more citizens can enjoy swimming and boating in the lakes,” adds Hendon.

Much of the watershed that feeds into Eagle Mountain Lake is located in Wise County, and Lake Bridgeport is also the primary water supply for the City of Decatur, the county seat for Wise County. The TRWD has partnered with the Wise County Soil and Water Conservation District, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), Wise County Commissioners Court, Wise County Water Control and Improvement District and others in working to help landowners install conservation practices in the watershed. These practices allow more rainfall to soak into the soil and decrease erosion from agricultural areas.

These agencies also worked together to construct and rehabilitate flood control dams with assistance from NRCS. The flood control dams store water during high rainfall events and release it slowly through a pipe in the dams over a period of days or weeks. These structures also trap sediment and nutrients that otherwise would flow downstream into Eagle Mountain. The dams are important to the Tarrant County water supply because they help TRWD in managing water levels in Eagle Mountain Lake and protect the reservoir water quality.

Eagle Mountain Lake

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“Our conservation work and flood control dams in Wise County protect the county’s soil and water resources as well as improving the water quality downstream in Tarrant County,” says Kevin Burns, Wise County Commissioner. But we also look upstream in Jack and Montague Counties where their dams and conservation work helps protect the Decatur water supply via Lake Bridgeport. Flooding and sediment from soil erosion doesn’t stop at county lines, so partnerships that extend across county boundaries are really important to do a good job in conservation.”

In additional to financial and technical assistance with conservation work in Wise County, the TRWD has established a monitoring program along the Trinity River and its watershed so they can be alerted to any significant water quality issues that might need to be addressed in the watershed.

“Utilizing the partnership of all these agencies we can take advantage of the knowledge, expertise, and resources that each have to offer and that allows us to accomplish much more than we could do as individual agencies,” says Hendon.

“Partnerships like we see in Wise and Tarrant County Texas increase both the amount and effectiveness of conservation work including flood control that can be accomplished,” said Dan Sebert, National Watershed Coalition Executive Director. Across the nation project sponsors of NRCS-assisted watershed projects across the nation depend on these types of partnerships with landowners, county commissioners, city and tribal governments and others to carry out watershed project efforts.”

A video entitled: “Wise and Tarrant County Texas Partnerships Help Protect Ft. Worth’s Water Supply” with more on this story is located on the NWC website, www.watershedcoalition.org under the video tab.