Trinity River Authority

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Now showing 1 - 12 of 12
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    Trinity River Authority Project: Sid McCain
    (2023-04) Wise, Ken
    Oral history interview with Sid McCain on his history with the Trinity River Authority.
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    Trinity River Authority Project: Keith Bass
    (2023-04) Konchak, Jonathan
    Oral history interview with Keith Bass on his history with the Trinity River Authority.
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    Trinity River Authority Project: Warren Brewer
    (2023-05) Bunn, Jennifer
    The Trinity River Authority of Texas (TRA) oversees the management of the Trinity River’s two regions: the Northern Region and the Southern Region. The Northern Region is responsible for flood control, water reclamation, and water treatment of the Northern part of the Trinity River Basin, including the DFW metroplex area. In 1979, Warren Brewer became the Regional Manager of the Northern Region and worked in that role until 2011. Mr. Brewer was first hired by TRA in 1977, after having worked for the engineering firm of Forest and Cotton, during which time TRA was his major client. Initially brought on to oversee the Joe Pool Lake Reservoir Project (known then as the Lakeview Reservoir), Mr. Brewer rose quickly through the ranks to his position as Northern Region Manager. In his capacity as Regional Manager, Mr. Brewer oversaw the design, construction, and operation of all Northern Region facilities. Under Mr. Brewer’s leadership, TRA was able to develop a regional approach to water service and wastewater systems by adding customer cities, which lowered costs for customer cities and dramatically improved water quality. Mr. Brewer was instrumental in negotiating contracts with customer cities and building a relationship of trust and cooperation with them. One of the bigger changes that occurred during Mr. Brewer’s tenure as Northern Region Manager was the entry of private water and wastewater service providers into the industry as competitors. Privatization was an attractive cost-savings option to some municipalities and might have disrupted the regional approach to wastewater treatment and water services. The Trinity River Authority and Mr. Brewer were challenged to find ways to make TRA a competitive service provider from a cost and operations standpoint in order to maintain contracts with its customer cities. Mr. Brewer’s deep and collaborative relationships with TRA’s customer cities were instrumental in leading the cities to allow TRA the time to respond to competition with changes that were beneficial to all involved and produced greater efficiencies and lowered the cost of providing water to the region. Mr. Brewer retired from TRA after 33 years. He states his priorities while serving TRA were: customers, employees, reliability.
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    Trinity River Authority Project: Steve Price
    (2023-04) Redmon, Heather
    When most people flush their toilets that is the end of it of it. Out of site out of mind. What is neglected is the careers and innovation that sit at the other end of the toilets. Steve Price has made the flushing of Dallas, Texas toilets his lifelong career and forged a deeper relationship with water and waste management at the same time. In the digital age of 2023, many tend to overlook physical jobs, we tend to only see innovation as things with artificial intelligence or reaching out deeper into space. The story of Steve career illuminates the innovations that are occurring in a more natural world, and ones that will help in managing ever expanding populations, especially in North Texas and the Dallas Metroplex. Steve started with the Trinity River Authority in waste management right out of high school and “as green as could be”. He moved up the ranks, gaining educational opportunity and showing the benefits of staying with one company long term. While traditional, university-based educations are increasingly considered to be of higher value than on the job learned experience we see the many things you can learn and gain through technical experience. Steve and his team have competed and won in nationwide waste management competitions that go to prove the direct usefulness of their job specific knowledge and training. The advancements in wastewater management also play an important role in the understanding of how solid waste careers have been altered over time. The mechanics of removing solid waste have remained largely the same, but they have been improved upon by chemical advancements that have made flushed byproducts safer, easier to dispose of, and increasingly more environmentally friendly. Various chemicals, microorganisms and mechanical methods have been homed in over the past decades that are directly benefiting the lives of Texans and beyond. When most see what can easily be passed off as a “poop plant” ideas of unclean, and polluting conditions are conjured. However, through innovation and the long career of TRA employees like Steve Price, we get a greater understanding of how well cared for the water quality of the Trinity River is and the employees who are responsible for the waters condition and return to the Trinity River. Additionally, it is important to see that even in what is perceived to be a dirty, blue-collar job, there is community, room for growth and fulfillment that today does not get enough recognition for the ways it keeps our daily lives running smoothly.
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    Trinity River Authority Project: Jim Sims
    (2023-04-17) Wise, Ken
    An oral history interview with Jim Sims, who has worked for the Trinity River Authority for 50 years.
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    Oral History Interview: Ed Mach
    (2023) Erazo, Susana
    We are offered a glimpse into the TRA through Ed Mach’s growth, longevity, and career path as an operator. During his time at the TRA, he has been a part of administrative and technological advancements. He has also become well educated on water treatment systems and the impact his work has on the organization and externally on their customer cities and the Trinity River. He recalls his time, bonds, and opportunities at the TRA with great fondness and pride as he has been able to serve communities, assist in-system plants, and act as a steward of the environment. Through the opportunities that the authority offers for operators to continue their educations and acquire certifications, there is an active cultivation of existing employees rather than outsourcing pre-trained individuals. This cultivation of their employees earns the authority of a workforce that is willing and eager to commit to their teams, plants, and resources to accomplish long-term goals and resolve emergencies. Flooding incidents due to construction mishaps, natural phenomena, or incidents within the contract cities affect the treatment plants and facilities, however, the TRA’s system has procedures in place to facilitate emergency repairs and volunteer groups to assist other plants and facilities within the networks. Transformations of the treatment phases, as well as pilot studies, have been conducted from the time that the authority was first established to where it is now. For instance, from treating water with chlorine to using a UV light for disinfection to the removal of phosphorus. There have been drawbacks and successes with the equipment and processes that the plants use to treat waste water, protect the environment and their employees. The wastewater plants along with the water systems under the TRA were all engineered to flow as naturally as possible from creeks to river basins to lakes under the authority’s care. Ed has had the opportunity to experience and develop his friendships and position on the team at the 10 Mile Creek Wastewater Plant. He describes the working environment at the TRA as one where workers aim to stay and grow their involvement and knowledge. This can be seen through his growth at the TRA, more specifically at 10 Mile Creek. He started as an operator in 1979 and from there has grown and taken on roles such as chief operator, operation maintenance chief, and now manager since 1997.
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    Trinity River Authority Project: David Holquin
    (2023) Erazo, Suzanna
    Through David Holquin, the TRA network can be seen from a dual perspective. During his time as the Electric/Electrical Divisions Chief, he was able to learn the mechanical and electrical aspects that running a plant. Alongside his knowledge of the technical functions the equipment operated under, he was also able to learn about the water treatment processes as well. Now as the park supervisor for the Livingston Recreation Facility at Wolf Creek Park, he works with the community and directly with the lake and well water in the park. His career path allows us to see how the TRA applies its mission statement to its contract communities and visitors. Throughout David's career in maintenance and mechanical work, he had the opportunity to repair and assist in crises such as equipment malfunctions, flash flooding, and hurricane floods. He has also been able to represent the TRA at an international and local level through collaborative programs such as tours from visiting organizations to the daily upkeep and goals within Wolf Creek Park. Water treatment occurs add both large plants and smaller water treatment equipment at the parks, tying both stages of his career together. David makes note of the larger differences between the parks and the plants in terms of the magnitude of operation and differences in the way the community is served. The plants have larger teams and complex divisions as well as higher budgets to maintain the equipment necessary to serve regional communities. The park, on the other hand, serves guests from the local community and travelers that are passing through the state itself. The park’s water treatment occurs on a much smaller scale as its primary focus is to provide water to the campsites on the Park grounds. His recollection of his time at the TRA and his future goals during his time there is filled with determination and dedication to the advancement of procedures and functionality. This is especially true in terms of the park he manages now. He understands that the land will inevitably be in a state of constant deterioration but he aims to improve on the foundations and the care for the park for it to continue its functions for as long as possible. Through improved systems and the autonomous and skilled maintenance of the park, he is dedicated to creating an environment that represents the TRA and serves the community at large.
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    Trinity River Authority: Dewayne Coburn
    (2023) Kramer, Heather
    Created in 1955 by the Texas Legislature, the Trinity River Authority [TRA] has maintained water supply, quality, and conservation in the Trinity River Basin since it’s investiture. Spanning several counties from north Texas to Galveston Bay, the role of TRA has grown to include additional activities regarding flood control, sewage treatment, water rights, and data collection. With 45 years of experience within the Trinity River Authority, Dewayne Coburn has served in numerous roles in the organization. Beginning as a biologist in 1978 and retiring in 2023 as the manager of Southern Region Support Services [SRSS] based out of Huntsville, Texas, he grew professionally alongside the growth of the Trinity River Authority and recollects lab work to computerized networks to water sales. A devoted staff member, his goal has been to provide safe, clean, and reliable water to Livingston, Huntsville, and Trinity by supervising the operations of the areas three surface water treatment plants. As a biologist, Mr Coburn collected water samples checking for nutrient levels to determine the effectiveness of water treatment along the Trinity River and Lake Livingston. Inspecting for ammonias, phosphates, and nitrates, the process called for quality checks to determine nitrification or aging of the lake or water body. Technology altered day to day data collection of the TRA moving from analog tabulations to programmable controls to networked supervisory control and data acquisition [SCADA] systems for faster details and storage. Moving from the biology lab to the Huntsville Regional Water Supply, he witnessed historic contracts between TRA and cities for additional provision of excess water. Specifically, Mr Coburn recalled the contract acquired by the city of Houston to build Lake Livingston Dam and Reservoir retaining 70% of water rights and 30% belonged to TRA. Water rights were then sold to different entities to meet additional water demands of a growing region. Part of these contracts involved using surface water as well as groundwater, to avoid sinking and subsidence of the area. Mr Coburn supervised three surface water treatment plants as part of this process. Other reminiscences recalled colleagues Mike Knight and Keith Bass, illustrating a team based organizational culture in TRA with shared goals of service, hard work, problem solving, and also leisure time with canoe races and duck hunts. From scuba diving the bottom of Lake Livingston to changing hazard lightbulbs 190 feet up, Mr Coburn has fulfilled a lasting legacy from all heights and depths.
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    Trinity River Authority Project: Cathy Sieger
    (2023) Konchak, John
    Interview with Cathy Sieger about her 45 years working for the Trinity River Authority.
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    Oral history of the Trinity River Authority with Carol Claybrook
    (2023-03) Cox, Cassandra
    Carol Claybrook has worked for the Trinity River Authority (TRA) for 4 ½ decades, beginning her career as a temporary employee filing papers and culminating as the Executive Assistant to the Director. Having worked over the years for various departments within the TRA, Carol is the only current employee to work under all three TRA directors, David Brune, Danny Vance, and Kevin Ward; she has seen the evolution of the TRA, its policies and its interactions with Texas waterways. Mrs. Claybrook discusses diverse ways the TRA and the communities along the river have worked over the years to clean and protect the river. Since the 1970s, Trinity River Authority has consistently increased the assets under their care and now it’s the political subdivision for the Region C Water Planning Group—working directly with the state to incorporate TRA goals into the state water plan. A turning point for the TRA and the Trinity River discussed by Carol, was the passage of the Clean River Act of 1991 and subsequent Clean River Program, passed by the Texas Senate. These placed restrictions on industrial dumping into waterways and established regulations on water quality, initiating consistent monitoring of rivers for pollutants. These enabled TRA to create outreach programs to promote conservation and preservation, notably with educational activities in public schools. The TRA interacts with students through art contests to help the younger generation understand the impact of Texas waterways and their own environmental impact on the health of Texas water. Ultimately state programs helped to expand TRA into water purification, used for irrigation and also put back into Texas waterways. TRA has also evolved internally; it has become very similar to a modern corporation, supporting the needs of their employees with attractive pension plans, flexible hours and increased paid time off. This modernization has served to create an evolving internal structure serving the continued growth and prosperity of the Trinity River, Texas communities and the state. Carol Claybrook has interacted with the Trinity River Authority Board of Directors, the H. Ross Perot Group, as well as city and state leaders, in her 45 years of service. She has assisted TRA leadership in illustrating to surrounding communities and the state the importance of the Trinity River; the use of community action coupled with Earth Day and Texas Water Day activities has increased the water quality of the Trinity River. Carol has been responsible for timely and detailed communication between the Trinity River Authority and the state and has represented the TRA throughout her career.
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    Oral History of Bill Tatum
    (2023-04) Berry, Jennifer E.
    One of the primary functions of the Trinity River Authority of Texas (TRA) is the treatment of wastewater and the safe discharge of treated water back into the Trinity River. Bill Tatum is the manager for the TRA’s Central Region Wastewater Treatment System (CRWS) plant in Dallas, Texas. Mr. Tatum started working for the Trinity River Authority in 1972. During the 50 years that he has worked at the plant, CRWS has undergone tremendous growth and expansion. When the plant opened in 1959, it treated wastewater from four customer cities. That has grown to 21 customer cities today. The average daily flow has increased from 20 million gallons per day (mgd) to a rated capacity of 189 mgd, making it the second-highest rated capacity wastewater treatment plant in the State of Texas. As plant manager, Mr. Tatum oversaw the expansion and the onboarding of evolving technological solutions that enabled this level of growth. Historically, the Trinity River struggled with high levels of pollution. The rapidly expanding population of the Dallas-Ft. Worth metroplex outpaced efforts to mitigate pollution. The quality of the water discharged into the river was so poor that fish could not survive. Fish kills continued to occur until the mid-1980s. Passage of the Clean Water Act and subsequent State and Federal regulations required water agencies to find treatment solutions to clean up the water. Since that time, CRWS has received numerous awards from National Association of Clean Water Associations for the quality of the water it discharges into the Trinity River. The plant has not received a permit violation in the past 28 years. The challenge of continued population growth has meant an ongoing investment by TRA in plant expansion and treatment technologies. One of the more recent additions to the treatment process Mr. Tatum has overseen at CRWS is the Thermal Hydrolysis Process, which has significantly reduced the amount of treated solid material that the plant disposes of. That addition alone took almost 6 years to complete. Mr. Tatum is most proud of the fact that CRWS has treated over 1 trillion, 500 billion gallons of wastewater with no permit violations or fish kills in the past 28 years. He credits technology, strong leadership, transparency, and cooperative customer cities with TRA’s continued success in this area.
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    Trinity River Authority, Bill Holder, Lake Livingston
    (2023-04) Redmon, Heather
    Texas is filled with natural beauty and environments, some existing naturally and others being man made. For those of us not old enough to remember the creation of lakes, their dams and creation may easily be overlooked. When examining the natural environment, it must be remembered that at times, it’s not all that natural at all. There are many ways that humans can alter the path of nature, whether it be through structures or the introduction of nonnative species, and must be considered when looking at our existence with the natural world. Lake Livingston is a prime example of human involvement in molding nature, located about seventy-five miles north of Houston on the Trinity River. The lake came to be built in 1971 after the completion of the dam and filling of the lake from the natural river flow. It was created in partnership between the City of Houston and the Trinity River Authority to act as water storage for the city. Prior to the lake’s existence, the land now underwater was family farms and homes that were purchased to reserve area to become the lake we see today. William “Bill” Holder is a long time native to the Livingston area, a graduate from Sam Houston State University and currently works with the Trinity River Authority to oversee Lake Livingston. His career with the TRA was driven by his desire to stay close to home and through diligent hard work he has grown with the water management company and deepened his connections with the lake. Bill provides insight into the history of Lake Livingston, the creation, social reactions to the building of the lake, how it has handled natural environmental challenges, the impact of population growth on a water reservoir and how the lake’s management team reacts to significant and possibly dangerous weather events. One of the most notable points in his conversation is the impact of Hurricane Rita in 2005. This reminds us of the dangers that can be involved in changing the natural landscape. Rita brought devastating winds to the reservoir which threatened the integrity of the dam. This raised concerns about safety downstream had a catastrophic failure occurred. Bill acknowledged that Hurricane Rita was, to date, one of the most challenging experiences with his career surrounding Lake Livingston. In 2017 Hurricane Harvey again reminds the power and danger of water manipulation in a coastal region. The city of Houston and surrounding areas saw upwards of forty inches of rain fall. Rain fell on both sides of the reservoir’s dam, which contributed to some of the downstream, catastrophic flooding that changed the lives of hundreds if not millions of south east Texans.