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Wetland Water Re-Use Project Saving North Texans Millions

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NORTH TEXAS (CBS 11 NEWS) – In the middle of extreme drought, fresh water is pouring into Richland Chambers Reservoir near Corsicana. It’s more than 60-million gallons per day, enough to supply more than 350,000 people in North Texas.

The reservoir provides water the region didn’t have last summer — the result of more than two decades of work that started as an innovative experiment.

Crews finished work on the George Shannon Wetland Water Re-Use Project in the fall. Pumps take water from the Trinity River and deposit it on 2,000 acres of former flood plain. It has turned into a wetland, that over a period of about a week, filters brown waste-water into something clear and clean.

Built in stages, 2014 is the first summer that 1.8 million customers in the Tarrant Regional Water District have been able to utilize the full project. Flow can be increased up to 90-mgd, after some work is done clearing out vegetation in some of the wetland cells.

“That’s a pretty dependable source of water,” Darrel Andrews from the TRWD said about the river the water is coming from. “If you have a big enough metropolitan area, you’re going to have waste-water.”

The wetlands have also become a wildlife habitat, filled with white pelicans, wood storks and the occasional gator. “This was all open fields,” said Matt Symank, a biologist with Texas Parks and Wildlife. “So it was really easy thing to do to turn open fields and flood plains into this project.”

The project has cost the district $75 million. Officials with the district say, however, 1,000 gallons obtained through the wetland re-use, is about half the cost of traditional methods. It can be reproduced, and a second project is on track to be built within the next 10 years.

(©2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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