Our History

The Trinity River Authority was created by an Act of the 54th Texas Legislature in 1955 and charged with the following functions:

  • Maintaining a master plan for basin-wide development
  • Serving as local sponsor for federal water projects
  • Providing services authorized by the Texas Legislature within TRA's territory

The following is a timeline of major developments in the history of the Trinity River and TRA:


The Trinity River is originally discovered in 1687 by Robert Cavelier de La Salle, but later named La Santisima de la Trinidad — Spanish for "The Most Holy Trinity" — in 1690 by General Alonzo de Leon when he rediscovers it while searching for a French outpost near Lavaca Bay.  The timing of his discovery? Two days before the Feast of the Most Holy Trinity.

 1836Settlement begins and advances rapidly up the Trinity valley from Anderson County during the period of the Texas Republic.  Numerous packet boats steam up the river, bringing provisions such as groceries and dry goods and taking back cotton, sugar and animal hides.
 1841 The founding of Dallas leads to interest in the development of the Trinity River's navagational potential.
 1852 Congress authorizes a survey of the Trinity River. The resulting Army engineer's report estimates that navigation of the river is practicable.  After this, boats travel the Trinity as far north as Trinidad in Henderson County and Porter's Bluff in Navarro County.
 1870 River traffic begins to diminish due to construction of railroads leading to Dallas.
 1892  The Trinity River Navigation Company is formed to re-establish riverboat transportation and to compete with the railroads' increased freight rates.
 1908  A 10-inch rainfall in the upper Trinity basin causes the most devastating flood on record, killing 11 people and causing more than $5 million in damage.
 1955 TRA is created by an Act of the 54th Legislature.  Much of the political activity surrounding its early years is facilitated by an ad hoc citizens' group, the Trinity Improvement Association.
 1958 Congress authorizes the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to complete a comprehensive survey of the Trinity River.  The first Trinity River watershed master plan is completed.
 1959 TRA's Central Regional Wastewater System begins operation to serve four member cities: Farmers Branch, Grand Prairie, Irving and a portion of western Dallas.
 1965 The Corps of Engineers' report is approved by Congress, and the president approves the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1965.
 1969 To help the city of Houston satisfy its water demand, TRA completes construction of Lake Livingston Dam.  The lake is filled in 1971.
 1970 TRA's Ten Mile Creek Regional Wastewater System begins service to Cedar Hill, DeSoto, Duncanville, Ferris and Lancaster.
 1974 TRA's Tarrant County Water Supply Project begins providing treated water to Bedford and Euless.  The first basin-wide water quality plan is completed.
 1980 TRA's Huntsville Regional Water Supply System begins operation under contract with the city of Huntsville.
 1981 TRA's Livingston Regional Water Supply System begins operation to supply water to the city of Livingston.
 1983 TRA's Trinity County Regional Water Supply System was founded to provide water to Trinity, Groveton, the Westwood Shores Municipal Utility District, and the Glendale, Trinity Rural and Riverside Water Supply corporations.

TRA's Denton Creek Regional Wastewater System begins serving Fort Worth, Haslet, Roanoke and the Circle T Municipal Utility District No. 1 (formerly Lake Turner Municipal Utility District No. 1).


TRA's Red Oak Creek Regional Wastewater System begins serving Cedar Hill, portions of DeSoto, Glenn Heights, Lancaster, Ovilla, and Red Oak.  The Texas Legislature passes the Clean Rivers Act.

The Texas Legislature passes Senate Bill No. 1, spurring the first round of regional water planning.
Wallisville Saltwater Barrier Project is completed. 
 2005 TRA's Mountain Creek Regional Wastewater System begins operation serving Grand Prairie, Midlothian and Venus. The city of Mansfield was added December 1, 2015.
 2015 R.C. Thomas Hydroelectric Project groundbreaking at Lake Livingston Dam.