New Waves April 2009

Breaking news about water resources research and education in Texas

Landowners, residents learn about bacterial pollution in Robertson County creeks

Robertson County landowners and residents reviewed the current progress of a water quality study that is examining bacterial pollution in five Robertson County creeks at a public meeting April 23rd in Franklin.

The Brazos River Authority, Texas AgriLife Research, Texas AgriLife Extension Service, Texas Water Resources Institute (TWRI), and Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board sponsored the meeting.

The five tributaries - Walnut Creek, Spring Creek, Mud Creek, Pin Oak Creek, and Campbells Creek - of the Little Brazos River are designated by the state as impaired, said Lucas Gregory, a project manager for TWRI. The creeks are closed to recreational use due to elevated E. coli bacteria concentrations that exceed state water quality standards.

The federal Clean Water Act mandates state intervention to protect public safety, he said. Approximately 300 bodies of water statewide currently have this designation.

"Bacteria impairments occur statewide, but the impairments on these five creeks affect much of the western half of Robertson County," said Ed Schneider, Robertson County AgriLife Extension agent. "Landowners should make a concerted effort to attend future stakeholder meetings in order to participate in the decision-making process and ensure that their concerns and desires are known. Their participation is fundamental to the success of this study."

Although not all strands are harmful to people, elevated concentrations of E. coli in lakes and streams indicate fecal contamination and the possible presence of harmful pathogens, said Jay Bragg, regional environmental planner with the Brazos River Authority. Wastewater treatment plants, septic systems, livestock, pets, feral hogs, birds, and other wildlife are possible sources of E. coli.

The purpose of the study is to more accurately determine the level of impairment, Bragg said. It will also help identify feasible best management practices that can be voluntarily implemented to reduce bacterial concentrations and prevent more stringent federal regulation.

More information about the study

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