Trinity River Authority

By: Robert N. Tharp

Type: General Entry

Published: 1976

Updated: October 2, 2020

The Trinity River Authority of Texas was established in 1955 by the Fifty-fourth Legislature and charged with three major functions: to establish a master plan for basin-wide development, to serve as local sponsor for federal water projects, and to provide services authorized by the Texas legislature. The authority comprised Tarrant, Dallas, Ellis, Navarro, and Chambers counties and generally that portion of the following counties that lies within the watershed of the Trinity River: Kaufman, Henderson, Anderson, Freestone, Leon, Houston, Trinity, Madison, Walker, San Jacinto, Polk, and Liberty. The Trinity River Authority is governed by a board of directors appointed by the governor with the advice and consent of the Senate. There are seventeen counties in the authority, represented by twenty-four directors, of which Dallas County has four, Tarrant County, three, and each of the remaining counties, one; the other two are directors-at-large. The authority was given the responsibility of overseeing flood control, conservation, and beneficial use of storm and flood waters in the Trinity River watershed. The authority prepared a master plan for the Trinity River basin in 1957, which was implemented by the authority in the following ways: (1) construction of Livingston Reservoir to provide a water supply to the immediate authority area and to the city of Houston; (2) purchase of storage space for water supply within multipurpose federal reservoirs, including the Navarro Mills, Bardwell, and Wallisville projects; (3) construction of water-treatment facilities for the city of Ennis; (4) construction and operation of a regional sewage collection and treatment system for the cities of Farmers Branch, Grand Prairie, Irving, and Dallas. During the early 1990s major functions and services of the Trinity River Authority included flood control, water-quality and sewage treatment, parks and recreation, water conservation and supply, production of hydroelectric power, and water-resource data collection. The Trinity River Authority oversaw recreational facilities at Lake Livingston and Joe Pool Lake. The authority also conducted educational efforts through its Major Rivers program, which was designed to provide water-related information to fourth graders. In 1993 the Trinity River Authority had total assets of more than $800 million.


  • Dallas/Fort Worth Region
  • North Texas

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Robert N. Tharp, “Trinity River Authority,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed January 17, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

October 2, 2020

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