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Decade-Long Project Underway To Ensure There's Enough Water For North Texans

FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) - After a year when Texas added more new people than any other state, a new project is underway to make sure there is enough water to go around.

More than 3,000 acres of land southeast of Dallas will be flooded to become wetlands.

The water will come from the Trinity River, which is where treated wastewater returns once it leaves homes, essentially making the wetlands one "big recycling project" according to planners.

Approved by the Tarrant Regional Water District board of directors last month, the initial design will add enough water to the system for 560,000 people once its online, expected by 2032.

The decade-long timeline isn't quick, but it's less than half the time a traditional reservoir would take to permit, planners said.

And although North Texas is growing fast, water use isn't moving at the same pace, with only 50% growth expected over the same period that population is expected to double.

Planned for property west of the Cedar Creek Reservoir, the wetlands follow the success of a similar project completed beneath the Richland Chambers reservoir in 2013.

Water from the Trinity is pumped into a series of retention chambers where sediment settles out.

Over about a week's time the water then moves through vegetation, filtering out more contaminants, and leaving the water clear and clean.

It's pumped into a reservoir then where it's available for use back in North Texas.

"It allows you to use water straight out of the river, and therefore you're not taking water that has a lot of sediment or a lot of nutrients straight into a reservoir," said Woody Frossard, Director of Environmental Services for TRWD.

The district is also looking at options for expansion at the new site, potentially increasing capacity to provide for 1.1 million people.

Chief Water Resources Officer Rackel Ickert said as the district projects needs for the area for the next 50 years, it's looking at storage in the aquifer, ground water, more reservoirs and more efficiency ion the current system to provide water.

The wetlands though have been an environmentally friendly and cost efficient option.

"This supply is significant," she said. "It's a large amount. It's as big as some of those larger water supplies."

Engineering of the wetlands is expected to take much of the next three years with construction beginning in 2025.

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