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Elevate Parks & Recreation (Tree & Green

Harris-Nicol Water Recreation and Trails

Updated Feb 23, 2024

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The process of improving Harris Lake and Lake Nicol began by developing a master plan. This document provides design standards for improvements, options for improvements that can be made, and a proposal for phasing in projects over time. The first project will replace the existing restrooms at Lake Nicol. 

Harris Lake was built in 1929 to provide a new drinking water source to residents, who were drinking water from the Black Warrior River previously. The lake is comprised of 220 acres and about 1 billion gallons of water. Harris Lake was created by damming Little Yellow Creek and used two true arch dams, the first of their kind built in the state of Alabama. 

Lake Nicol was built in 1956 as an additional source of water supply. The lake is comprised of 384 acres and holds about 3.3 billion gallons of water. Both lakes are owned by the City of Tuscaloosa. While both serve as backup sources of water supply to Lake Tuscaloosa, the two lakes serve primarily recreational purposes now. Both are located within a thirty minutes’ drive of Tuscaloosa City Hall.

The two lakes and the area around them comprise 1,800 acres of preserved park land.

Goals and Impact
  • Expand recreational opportunities for Tuscaloosa families

  • Highlight the natural beauty the Tuscaloosa area has to offer

  • Attract visitors to Tuscaloosa

  • Improve access to the lakes

Project Updates

Hover to see details

Key Milestones & Events
  • June 2022: lakes community input survey held through August 29, 2022

  • August 2022: community enagement event held 

  • July 2023: Planning and Zoning Commission presented final plan

  • June 2023: contracted Ward Scott Morris for Phase 1 improvements

Up Next:
  • Finish design of Phase 1

Project Materials
  • The final plan is available to view here.

  • August 22, 2022 Community Engagement materials may be viewed here.

Financial Information

Cost Summary








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Spent: The amount paid on this project to-date.​

Approved: The amount that has been approved by the City Council to be spent for a specific contract or purpose on this project. In city accounting terms, this is spent + encumbered.

Budget: The total amount of money that the City expects to be spent to complete this project. This amount is only finalized once sufficient planning on the project has been completed.

Cost Details
Overall Funding

Funding Summary


Elevate Tuscaloosa Fund:


Other City Funds:


External Funding:


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Elevate Tuscaloosa Fund: City funds dedicated to Elevate Tuscaloosa which are allocated to this project.

Other City Funds: City funds from non-Elevate Tuscaloosa sources allocated to this project.

External Funding: Amounts from sources outside of the city, such as grants, or donations from citizens or private companies.

Funding Details
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