New Waves September 2007

Breaking news about water resources research and education in Texas

TWRI hires staff, gains project for Arroyo Colorado watershed

Texas Water Resources Institute recently added three staff members and one project to work with the Arroyo Colorado Watershed Partnership (ACWP) on water quality improvements in this South Texas watershed.

The ACWP was originally organized by Texas Coastal Watershed Program, which is part of Texas Sea Grant and Texas Cooperative Extension, in cooperation with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) and the Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board (TSSWCB).

In January 2007, the ACWP published the Arroyo Colorado Watershed Protection Plan (ACWPP)—one of the first watershed protection plans in the state—that identified and addressed impairments and concerns in the watershed. Now the partnership is implementing the plan through TWRI’s ACWPP Implementation project, funded by a grant from TCEQ and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

In June, TWRI hired Laura De La Garza as watershed coordinator for the partnership. She coordinates the Arroyo Colorado Watershed Steering Committee and facilitates and tracks implementation measures described in the completed plan. Laura, who served as the coordinator during plan development, publicizes and builds awareness of these watershed improvement efforts and provides extensive outreach and education activities.

Megan Meier, a Texas A&M University graduate student in hydrological sciences, and Amy Rangel, a graduate of The University of Texas at Austin, joined TWRI’s staff in June and September, respectively, as the partnership’s part-time grant writers and water quality data analysts.

A SWAT modeling project that will simulate the Arroyo Colorado watershed is the most recent addition to a group of four projects that TWRI manages to address Arroyo Colorado water quality concerns.

This project will simulate current pollution loadings using the SWAT computer model, which will help with the reassessment of the needed load reductions. TSSWCB, Blackland Research and Extension Center, Texas A&M University’s Spatial Sciences Laboratory, TCEQ and Extension are partnering with TWRI and ACWP on this project.

Other TWRI projects on the Arroyo Colorado are:

  • Arroyo Colorado Agricultural Nonpoint Source Assessment project, which assesses and demonstrates the effectiveness of best management practices (BMPs) implemented at the field and sub-watershed level to improve water quality and measures progress toward meeting ACWPP goals
  • Education of Best Management Practices in the Arroyo Colorado Watershed project, which educates farmers on proper nutrient, pest and irrigation management to reduce the potential for nonpoint source pollution.
TSSWCB is funding both of these projects, through Clean Water Act 319(h) grants from the EPA.

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