John Bunker Sands was a life-long conservationist with a dream to restore thousands of acres of his family’s land to wetlands. And, in the early 2000s, the North Texas Municipal Water District’s service area was experiencing a population boom and needed to expand its water supply. A unique public-private partnership was born between NTMWD and the family of John Bunker Sands and the Rosewood Corporation resulting in what is now over a decade of water reuse operation and ten years of education, research and conservation through the John Bunker Sands Wetland Center.
It was sixteen years ago when NTMWD and Alan Plummer Associates began construction on the 1,840-acre East Fork Water Reuse Project on a portion of Seagoville Ranch owned by the Sands family. The wetlands essentially acts as a large-scale recycling project, diverting treated wastewater (effluent) flows from the East Fork of the Trinity River and filtering it naturally before it is returned to blend with other water supplies (Lavon Lake) for future treatment and use. This cost-effective alternative to building a new reservoir was complete and operational by 2009 with the capability to provide 102,000 acre-feet of water per year, which is enough water to serve 500,000 people.
In the center of the wetlands sits the John Bunker Sands Wetland Center, which provides opportunities for research, education, wildlife observation and community gatherings within a comfortable, environmentally-conscious building. The Wetland Center partners with area school districts, wildlife and conservation organizations, and research institutions. It’s open to the public and offers walks, nature events, and tours. The Wetland Center is a vibrant family attraction to learn about nature and ways to protect the environment.
This dedicated partnership has received numerous awards over the years including the WateReuse Association Large Project of the Year (2008), Texas Commission on Environmental Quality Texas Environmental Excellence Award (2011), and the North Central Texas Council of Governments Celebrating Leadership in Development Excellence (CLIDE) Award (2013). In 2018, the East Fork Water Reuse Project and the John Bunker Sands Wetland Center received the prestigious honor as a 2018 Conservation Wrangler from Texan by Nature, a Texas-led conservation non-profit founded by former First Lady Laura Bush.
To celebrate this 10-year milestone anniversary, the Wetland Center is hosting its annual Wings Over the Wetland event on Oct. 24 from 5 to 8 p.m. both in-person with social spacing and virtually so participants can show support from home. Event guests can spread out picnic blankets and enjoy Pecan Lodge BBQ serving Rosewood Wagyu beef onsite or by delivery in time to share in the fun with those at the Wetland Center, and then dance the night away with the down-to-earth, infectious energy of the Steel Betty band and watch a live bird flight program by Window to the Wild.
Proceeds from the event help keep the Wetland Center education team employed so they can provide the best environmental education programming in North Texas.
Visit the John Bunker Sands Wetland Center to see how you can RSVP to attend this special evening.