The Death and Holistic Revitalization of a Reservoir, the Case of Lake Wichita, Texas

Tom Lang , Inland Fisheries Division, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Wichita Falls, TX
Steve Garner , Lake Wichita Revitalization Committee, City of Wichita Falls, Wichita Falls, TX
Built in 1901, LakeWichita in WichitaFalls, is the third oldest lake in Texas. It has served the region as a recreation destination, a driving  socioeconomic force, a home for fish and wildlife resources, and a drinking-water source. The 1,200-acre LakeWichita is past its 100-year life span and is essentially dead. The reservoir aging-process, GoldenAlga, and drought have led to it no longer being able to provide substantial community benefits. As a result, the Lake Wichita Revitalization Project has been established with several project partners; CityofWichitaFalls,CityofLakesideCity, TexasParksandWildlifeDepartment,WichitaFallsAreaCommunityFoundation, andLakeWichitaChapterOfFriendsOfReservoirs. These organizations have led a grassroots effort growing in political,financial,and public support for a holistic plan to revitalize the lake. Partners and the public have varied interests but all agree that without rebuilding the lake to sufficient quality to support a fisheries resource, no other desires for amenities matter. This project includes an excavation of 7-million-cubic-yards of sediment, bathymetric design that minimizes evaporation during drought, watershed restoration, fish habitat,restocking, fishing access, commercial development, and recreational amenities. This presentation will review the grassroots process that is leading to the success of this holistic and integrated lake revitalization that has turned a fisheries challenge of drought into an opportunity to breathe life back into one of our Nation’s oldest reservoirs.