Fort Worth, the Panther City, incorporated in 1873 with a population of 500. It began growing at a fast pace with the arrival of the Texas and Pacific Railroads in 1876.
Initially, Fort Worth depended on shallow wells, cisterns, springs, and the run of the Trinity River. Captain B.B. Paddock created a private water company in 1882 to construct a private water system. The City of Fort Worth purchased the private system in 1884. To meet rapid growth, the Holly Pump Station was built in 1892. This pump station, which has undergone numerous upgrades and renovations, remains in use as a high-service pump station for the water utility.
In 1897, the city engineer recommended building a water supply lake. Construction of Lake Worth started in November 1911, with the dam was completed in 1914. The cost was $1.6 million. This lake first filled on August 19, 1914. Including Lake Worth, Texas had only eight lakes at that time. While it seems hard to believe today, Lake Worth was the largest water supply lake in the state and among the largest in the country at the time it was built.
Concurrently with the building of Lake Worth, Fort Worth started constructing its first water treatment plant. The Holly Filtration plant began operation on January 31, 1912. Its initial water source was the Clear Fork of the Trinity River. The 6.5-mile pipeline bringing water to the Holly plant from Lake Worth was not completed until May 1916. This plant went into full operations in 1918. After a major expansion in 1948, this plant became the North Holly Water Treatment Plant.
The city completed the South Holly Water Treatment Plant, immediately south of the North Holly plat, in 1958. The “Holly” name came from the original pumping engines and boilers, purchased in 1891 from the Holly Manufacturing Company of Lockport, New York.
A third drinking water treatment, Rolling Hills, in south Fort Worth, began operation in 1972. Twenty years later, the Eagle Mountain Water Treatment started operation. The Eagle Mountain plant was the first in Texas to use ozone treatment as its primary disinfectant. The fifth water treatment plant, Westside, was built in 2012 and it is the first in the Fort Worth water system to use microfiltration membranes.
The Riverside Sewage plant was Fort Worth's first wastewater treatment plant, opening in 1924. At the time, Fort Worth became one of the first of the major cities in Texas to treat all its sewage with complete treatment. After 55 years of service, the Riverside plant closed with construction of a new modern plant, Village Creek Water Reclamation Facility, located in east Fort Worth in 1958.
Fort Worth has a total treatment capacity of 497 million gallons per day for drinking water and 166 million gallons per day for wastewater. There are more than 3,336 miles of pipe in the water distribution system and 3,266 miles in the collection system. The system serves more than 1.3 million people in Fort Worth and surrounding communities.