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Water Department History

Old Holly Pump Station

Fort Worth, the Panther City, was incorporated in 1873 with a population of 500. Fort Worth started growing at a fast pace with the arrival of the Texas and Pacific Railroads in 1876.

Before 1878, Fort Worth depended on shallow wells, cisterns, springs, and the run of the Trinity River. A private company was created by Captain B.B. Paddock in 1882 for the construction of a private water system. This system passed from private to public ownership when the City of Fort Worth purchased it in 1884. To meet rapid growth, the Holly Pump Station was built in 1892. This pump station, which has undergone numerous upgrades and renovations, remains in use as a main high-service pump station for the water utility.

In 1897, the City Engineer recommended the construction of a water supply lake. Construction of Lake Worth started in November 1911, and the dam was completed in 1914 for $1.6 million. This lake was first filled on August 19, 1914. Texas had only eight lakes in 1913 including Lake Worth. While it seems hard to believe today, Lake Worth was the largest water supply lake in the state and among the largest in the country at the time it was built.

Concurrently with the building of Lake Worth, the City of Fort Worth started construction of its first water treatment plant, the Holly Filtration plant, which began operation January 31, 1912. Its initial water source was the Clear Fork of the Trinity River. The 6.5-mile pipeline bringing water to the Holly plant from Lake Worth was not completed until May 1916. This plant went into full operations in 1918. After a major expansion in 1948, this plant became the North Holly Water Treatment Plant. A new water treatment built just south of the North Holly plant. The South Holly Water Treatment Plant was completed in 1958. The “Holly” name came from the original pumping engines and boilers, purchased in 1891 from the Holly Manufacturing Company of Lockport, New York.

A third water treatment plant, Rolling Hills, was built in south Fort Worth in 1972. Eagle Mountain Water Treatment Plant, Fort Worth’s fourth treatment plant, was built in 1992. Eagle Mountain was the first plant to use ozone treatment as its primary disinfectant. The fifth water treatment plant, Westside, was built in 2012 and it is the first to use microfiltration membranes, which allows for a much smaller footprint and provides the highest quality water.

The Riverside Sewage plant was the first wastewater treatment plant the City of Fort Worth constructed and completed in 1924. At the time, Fort Worth became one of the first of the major cities in Texas to treat all its sewage and give it complete treatment. After 55 years of service, the Riverside plant closed with construction of a new modern plant, Village Creek Water Reclamation Facility, located in east Fort Worth. The Village Creek Water Reclamation Facility was built in 1958.

Fort Worth stands as one of the fastest growing cities in the nation. The Water Department is responsible for providing safe and reliable water and wastewater service with environmental integrity. Fort Worth has a total treatment capacity of 497 million gallons per day for drinking water and 166 million gallons per day for wastewater; with five water treatment plants and one reclamation facility. There are more than 3,336 miles of pipe in the water distribution system and 3,266 miles in the collection system. The system serves more than 1.2 million people in Fort Worth and surrounding areas, which include 30 water wholesale customers, 23 wastewater wholesale wastewater customers and three wholesale reclaimed water customers.