Trinity River Authority, Bill Holder, Lake Livingston




Redmon, Heather

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



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.


Oral history interview with Bill Holder on his experience with the Trinity River Authority


Trinity River Authority, Lake Livingston, water quality, pollutants, watershed, regulatory efforts, weather impacts, dam