Site logo

Central Wastewater Treatment Plant – Trinity River Authority

Central Wastewater Treatment Plant – Trinity River Authority: Safeguarding Water Quality for the Future


As cities grow and populations expand, the burden on public infrastructure and utilities magnifies. In Texas, the Trinity River Authority (TRA) oversees a network of resources committed to managing water and wastewater services for millions. Among its critical assets is the Central Wastewater Treatment Plant (CWTP), a facility that plays an indispensable role in maintaining water quality and environmental health in the region. This article delves into the various aspects of the Central Wastewater Treatment Plant, from its service capacity and principal projects to its interaction with the local community and recent developments.

Population Served and Wastewater Volume

The Central Wastewater Treatment Plant currently serves a robust and diverse catching area that includes numerous municipalities and industries. The plant is a linchpin for wastewater management in the North Central Texas region, serving approximately 1.2 million residents. This service population is distributed across cities like Grand Prairie, Arlington, and parts of Fort Worth, among other areas.

Given the growing population, the volume of wastewater that the facility processes is staggering. Averaging around 112 million gallons per day (MGD), the plant manages both residential and industrial wastewater, ensuring it meets stringent federal and state guidelines before it’s discharged into the Trinity River. The system—engineered to handle peak flows—has seen continuous upgrades to accommodate up to nearly 200 MGD during peak wet weather conditions.

Treatment Capacity and Technological Capabilities

Infrastructure and Treatment Process

The Central Wastewater Treatment Plant is designed with advanced technologies to ensure the efficient breakdown and purification of wastewater. The facility employs a multi-stage process to treat wastewater:

  1. Preliminary Treatment: This stage involves the screening and removal of large debris and inorganic materials. Grit chambers then remove sand, gravel, and other heavy particles.

  2. Primary Treatment: During this phase, sedimentation tanks allow the heavier organic solids to settle, a process that removes approximately 60% of suspended solids from the wastewater.

  3. Secondary Treatment: Utilizing activated sludge processes, microorganisms metabolize organic matter. The biological treatment is crucial for reducing biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) and suspended solids.

  4. Tertiary Treatment: This includes advanced filtration and nutrient removal to eliminate any remaining phosphate or nitrate levels that could harm aquatic ecosystems. Disinfection through chlorination and subsequent dechlorination ensures that pathogens are minimized before the wastewater is discharged.

Innovation and Capacity Expansion

Aimed at improving efficiency and accommodating future growth, the TRA has incorporated advanced instrumentation and automation within the CWTP. Smart sensors and SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) systems provide real-time data, allowing operators to make informed decisions instantaneously. In addition, ongoing projects aim to enhance the anaerobic digestion process for better biosolid management and increased biogas production.

Recent Local News

Over the past few years, the Central Wastewater Treatment Plant has garnered attention for its proactive measures and innovative projects aimed at environmental sustainability and resilience. Some of the recent highlights include:

  1. Initiatives in Water Reuse: In response to increasing demands for sustainable water practices, the TRA has been working on projects to recycle treated wastewater for non-potable uses. This includes irrigation and industrial applications, reducing the burden on freshwater resources.

  2. Flood Resilience Improvements: Owing to climate change, there have been initiatives to bolster the flood resilience of the plant. Enhanced stormwater management systems and reinforced infrastructure are pivotal components of this initiative.

  3. Solar Panel Installation: Emphasizing renewable energy, the facility recently installed solar panels, aiming to offset a fraction of its energy consumption. This move not only cuts operational costs but also reduces the plant’s carbon footprint.

  4. Community Outreach and Education: TRA has been actively engaging with local schools and community organizations to spread awareness about water conservation and the importance of proper wastewater management. Interactive workshops and facility tours are part of this engagement strategy.

Key Projects

The Central Wastewater Treatment Plant has been the epicenter of various key projects aimed at modernizing infrastructure and improving operational efficiencies. Here are some of the standout initiatives:

  1. Biogas Utilization

Biogas, primarily methane, is a byproduct of the anaerobic digestion process used in wastewater treatment. Historically, this gas was flared off or considered a waste product. However, new projects focus on harnessing this biogas for energy production. The generated electricity not only powers parts of the plant but also has the potential to be fed back into the grid, promoting energy sustainability.

  1. Nutrient Recovery Systems

Aiming for resource recovery, TRA has invested in technology to recover phosphorus and nitrogen from wastewater. These nutrients, once considered pollutants, can be repurposed as fertilizers. This not only mitigates the environmental impact but also creates economic opportunities.

  1. Infrastructure Upgrading

With aging infrastructure being a critical issue, the Central Wastewater Treatment Plant has embarked on comprehensive renewal projects. Replacement of old pipelines, upgrade of treatment units, and the incorporation of corrosion-resistant materials ensure the longevity and efficiency of the facility.

Community Engagement

One of the critical elements that set apart the Trinity River Authority is its robust community engagement programs. The CWTP is not just an isolated facility but an integral part of the community’s health and wellbeing.

Public Outreach Programs

TRA conducts regular tours and educational workshops at the Central Wastewater Treatment Plant. These include:

  • School Programs: Tailored tours and educational sessions for students help raise awareness about water conservation.
  • Community Workshops: Open forums and workshops are conducted to educate residents about efficient water use and proper disposal methods.

Digital Engagement

Keeping pace with technological advancements, TRA has enhanced its digital outreach through interactive webinars and online resources. Informative videos, blogs, and social media campaigns aim to make the community more informed and engaged about water-related issues.

Partnerships and Collaborations

The TRA also collaborates with local businesses, non-profits, and government agencies to ensure a holistic approach to water management. By fostering these partnerships, the TRA is able to leverage collective resources and expertise to tackle water and environmental challenges.


The Central Wastewater Treatment Plant is a cornerstone of North Central Texas’s wastewater management system. By serving an ever-growing population and harnessing advanced treatment technologies, the facility ensures that the community’s wastewater is treated effectively and sustainably. Amidst the challenges posed by a burgeoning population and climate change, the CWTP, under the stewardship of the Trinity River Authority, continues to adapt and evolve, embodying a commitment to environmental stewardship and public health. Through innovative projects, community engagement, and forward-thinking strategies, the CWTP stands as a testament to the importance of sustainable water management for future generations.