Nature and Environment

It Is Time, Once Again, to Dredge White Rock Lake

To keep the lake healthy, this project needs to be on the November bond.

The view from Winfrey Point (photo by me, Tim Rogers, that's who)
The view from Winfrey Point (photo by me, Tim Rogers, that’s who)

When time permits, I pay a quick visit on weekday mornings to Winfrey Point, at White Rock Lake, to spend 10 minutes in quiet contemplation on a park bench. “Will Romo wind up in Denver or Houston? How much longer can I hope that an 18-year-old water heater will last?” That sort of stuff. I take a picture from the same spot and post it to Instagram, in an effort to bore people and drive off followers.

This morning, as I was leaving, I caught a glimpse of a bunch of birds doing their thing in Sunset Bay. More than a few of them, it appeared, were standing on a small silt island. And I wondered: is it time once again to dredge the lake? The answer is yes.

Here’s a good history of dredging at White Rock Lake (written by John Ostdick, my boss at American Way back in 1993). Short version: the lake was dammed in 1911 and full by 1914. It was created as a reservoir for the growing city. It had to be dredged 23 years later, then again 18 years later, and again 19 years later. The last dredging was done in 1998. That was 19 years ago. The guy who did it said that he hoped it wouldn’t need to be dredged again for 20 years.

So here we are. It is time. The 1998 dredging took nine months and cost $9 million. With inflation, that’s more than $17 million in today’s dollars. Let’s round up to $20 million. That figure needs to be included in the upcoming November bond package. Our last capital bond program was done in 2012. We can’t afford to wait another five years.

The responsibility for dredging falls to two city departments, Dallas Water Utilities and Trinity Watershed Management. Jody Puckett runs DWU, and Sarah Standifer runs TWM. You’ll find their contact info at those links.


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  • John B


  • Los_Politico

    Yes it does. We also need this:

    We need to be able to swim in the lake!

    • Greg Brown

      Cool idea. I would love to see the infinite ways that Dallas Park and Rec could screw that up!

  • Sam_Merten

    Dredging White Rock Lake was a part of my platform when running for city council in 2015. Here’s what the DMN ed board wrote: “In interviews with us, some candidates tried to cook up issues where there aren’t any, such as calling for the dredging of White Rock Lake.”

    • You were a man ahead of your time, Sam. I’m sure Councilman Mark Clayton will agree.

  • T_S_

    Draining swamps is all the rage these days.

  • dallasmay

    Just so you know, dredging does cause massive environmental damage. In fact, dredging is literally intentional environmental damage. It should be avoided whenever possible.

  • Randy Gibson
  • dallasmay

    You know that dredging does a lot of environmental damage. In fact, dredging is literally intentionally doing environmental damage.

  • Paul

    Make White Rock Lake great again.

  • RompingWillyBilly

    A toll needs to be charged to the bicyclists who use the path around the lake. The potential for that whole beautiful area would increase if it weren’t for all those young snobs on bikes. Indeed, this is the real issue. First off, I didn’t say rich. Rich people are wonderful while young snobs on bikes can be found anywhere. I can’t qualify this enough! The fact that all these young preppies on bikes happen to be rich factors little into the fact that they all act like snobs. I was considering the idea of saving lots of money having to dredge all over again killing two birds with one stone both by filling up the lake up instead by way of tossing these snobs into it. But then on further consideration, that could have a harmful effect on the surrounding wildlife. Besides, it would be illegal.

  • This is what happens when you dam up any silty creek or river. The large lakes like Lewisville and Grapevine have to be dredged too, sooner or later. You want a healthy body of water? Take out the dam to make it lotic again. You could do that temporarily and wash some sediment down to Lake Livingston. Otherwise, where are you going to put all that WRL mud? In the Big Dig near Big Spring? Oh geez.

  • Ted Barker

    Way past time to dredge. A couple of the current City Council Critters actually spoke about this at the Belmont when we were starting up the Dallas Green Alliance. Hal obtained data from Jody Puckett in 2012 on rates of silting at WRL It appears that the scans of the bottom of the lake at that time have become lost. That was/is valuable data. Maybe Jody can get someone to find the scans.

    Not only is the bottom in dire need, but the shoreline continues to be scalloped by water and debris grinding away at it.

  • Larry Brautigam

    2 shining examples of leadership, forward thinking, enlightened stewardship, strong ethics.

    You now owe me for the laughter.