Wichita County Water Improvement Districts No. 1 and 2 played a major role in the agricultural development of Wichita County. By 1900, Joseph Kemp, whose business activities were vital for the growth of Wichita Falls, developed plans for irrigation, leading to the construction of Lake Wichita. By 1914, Kemp and his brother-in-law Frank Kell, filed a plat for irrigation subdivisions. They envisioned agriculture becoming the backbone of Wichita County’s economy when the oil boom ended.
In 1919, Water Improvement District No. 1 organized it’s boundaries including Wichita Falls and lands to the north, south and east, some 15,543 acres. In 1920, District No. 2 formed, encompassing 76,784 acres west and northeast of the city. Under the leadership of Kemp, two large reservoirs, Lake Kemp and Lake Diversion with a gravity irrigation system were constructed between 1921 and 1924. The completed system provided water for irrigation and municipal purposes, as well as a means of flood control for Wichita Falls from periodic flooding of the Wichita River.
Although co-owned and operated on the same system by District 2, two different boards governed the Districts using different revenue sources. In 1961, the City of Wichita Falls annexed all lands in improvement District No. 1, took over all it’s assets and liabilities and assumed performance of it’s functions and services, thereby abolishing District No. 1. District No. 2 continues to be used for irrigation even though a major agricultural economy never developed in Wichita County. Water Improvement District No. 2 provides a vital source of municipal water to the City’s Reverse Osmosis Plant and continues to play a vital role in irrigation and flood control.