Oral History of Bill Tatum




Berry, Jennifer E.

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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.


An oral history of Bill Tatum and his experiences in a wastewater treatment plant in the Trinity River Authority of Texas


wastewater treatment plant, Central Regional Wastewater System, Trinity River Authority, technology, water quality, Plant Expansion