Perry: Environmental Efforts to Focus on Trinity River Basin
ARLINGTON - Gov. Rick Perry announced today a major environmental initiative on the Trinity River to improve its ecosystem and water quality. More than $500,000 in state seed money and in-kind contributions is being made available to the Trinity River Basin Environmental Restoration project.
"Starting today, the State of Texas is pursuing a new environmental restoration initiative for the Trinity River by leveraging federal dollars for projects that improve water quality, hydrology, wetland restoration, hardwood reforestation, wildlife habitat and voluntary landowner stewardship," Perry said.
The state funds will be used for storm water control, irrigation programs and education. These funds plus additional state and private dollars that could be contributed toward this effort could leverage as much as $30 million in the next three to five years to develop a comprehensive water flow model with the Army Corps of Engineers, improve water quality, enhance wildlife habitat, and expand ecotourism opportunities in the Trinity River Basin. Funds also will be used to leverage federal dollars for grants for the rural areas of the basin.
"The cities of Ft. Worth and Dallas both have major ongoing Trinity River projects, and I compliment city and county leaders for their vision for restoring the vitality of this great river," Perry said. "Our objective is to work closely with the cities, private landowners, federal, and state agencies to build on the success that the Metroplex has enjoyed."
Texas A&M University's Texas Water Resources Institute will lead and coordinate the project, working closely with the Trinity Basin Conservation Foundation, a group of local landowners, conservationists, and parks and wildlife advocates.
Perry stressed that landowner participation in the project will be voluntary, but there will be incentives to make participation attractive.
"If Texans all along the Trinity River band together to fully protect its water quality and restore the river to its more pristine past, it will have a dramatic impact on birds and wildlife, ecotourism, and water quality," Perry said.
The Trinity River has a long history of water quality problems, dating back to the early 1900s when it was known as the "River of Death." This trend was reversed in the early 1920s with the development of sewer systems and wastewater treatment in Dallas and Fort Worth. Over the past several decades, water quality has improved and the river's fisheries are returning to a much healthier state.
The Trinity River Basin is the only basin in the country that connects two major metropolitan areas; it stretches from the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex to Houston. The river is in close proximity to 8.9 million residents and provides water to 40 percent of the state's population.