Revitalizing Lake Wichita: Moving Forward

Revitalizing Lake Wichita: Moving Forward

"What the recent rains have showed everybody is that it can come back."

The atmosphere did its part in revitalizing Lake Wichita last week, and people are flocking to the south side of Wichita Falls to see the amazing sight.

But that water may not be there for long. The welcomed influx of water masks the lake's problems, according to members of the Lake Wichita Revitalization Board. Their first major step in this project is an excavation of Lake Wichita, and to do that, the water will have to be drained.

"We heard for a long time, 'Why are you going to dig out a dry lake?' said Tom Lang, a member of the Lake Wichita Revitalization Board. "Now we hear why are you going to drain the lake? Because the lake doesn't hold half as much as what it will hold when we're done."

Right now, the deepest point in Lake Wichita is less than five feet. After the excavation, that number is expected to more than triple to 16 feet. Officials are also looking to make Lake Wichita more drought resistant and less susceptible to evaporation.

But, what will happen to all the water?

"We're working with city engineers and the Department of Public Works to make sure that as much of that water is used as humanly possible," Lang said. "What we can't utilize will go down the Red River to Lake Texoma."

A lake that's overflowing already.

"It's letting a little bit of water go now, so we can have our lake back for a century," Lang explained.

"We have the opportunity to excavate the lake in portions that we want to, a little bit at a time so we can put together a lake that lasts 100 years," Chairman of the Lake Wichita Revitalization Board Stephen Garner added.

And the planned attractions for the revitalized Lake Wichita are numerous. A camping area, a kayak and canoe paddling trail, two beach areas, a wakeboard park, and a water playground are only some of the ideas that were presented.

"If you want to go out in the evening and enjoy a burger and soda and watch the sun set, I want to do it on Lake Wichita," Garner said.

All an effort to inject life back into what was once called the gem of North Texas.

"If we we're bringing it back to what it was, we'd call it a restoration," Lang said. "We're not. We're calling it a revitalization. We want it back and we want even more,"

The excavation process, if approved, will get started in anywhere from six to nine months. Depending on future rainfall and fundraising efforts, excavation of Lake Wichita could take anywhere from one and a half to five years.

The entire Revitalization Project will cost $35 to $45 million to complete, and that money is not coming from taxpayers. The excavation will be the most expensive item in the project.

Newschannel 6 Taylor Barnes did a story on the approval of the 4B sales tax to be used to help the Committee obtain a Corp of Engineers 404 permit. You can read her story here.

Dave Caulfield, Newschannel 6