Conservation Matters April 2016

The Texas Land, Water and Wildlife Connection

Photo essay: Navasota River water quality monitoring

By Leslie Lee

One morning in March, Conservation Matters joined up with members of the Texas Water Resources Institute (TWRI) water team to get a behind the scenes look at the water quality monitoring process. Check out this photo essay to see what it takes to survey and measure water quality in the Navasota River.

Rising in the Hill County roughly 10 miles northeast of Waco, the Navasota River flows approximately 126 miles until it connects with the Brazos River southwest of the town of Navasota. Its watershed drains portions of Brazos, Freestone, Grimes, Hill, Leon, Limestone, Madison and Robertson counties in east-central Texas.

TWRI is helping lead the Navasota River Water Quality Improvement project, which includes frequently monitoring water quality in the river. 

Beginning in 2002, the Texas Integrated Report of Surface Water Quality identified portions of the Navasota River and a number of its tributaries as having elevated levels of E. coli that do not comply with the state’s recreational water quality criteria. Since then, E. coli levels have remained above the state’s water quality standard.

In an effort to reduce E. coli levels in the river, TWRI's water team is working to develop a better understanding of the sources of bacteria seen in the river.This entails gathering existing information regarding the river’s watershed and pairing it with intensive water quality monitoring prior to conducting a water quality assessment. This knowledge gained will also be conveyed to watershed stakeholders, who will then be guided to develop a restoration plan to improve water quality in their watershed.

To learn more, visit navasota.tamu.edu. The project is funded in part by the Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board, through the State Nonpoint Source Grant Program.

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