New Waves April 2009

Breaking news about water resources research and education in Texas

Meeting to discuss solutions to Buck Creek bacterial contamination

Landowners and others interested in learning about and contributing to the development of the Buck Creek Watershed Protection Plan are invited to a public meeting April 30th in Wellington.

The meeting will be from 6:30-8 p.m. at the Wellington Auditorium, 802 10th Street. Light refreshments and meeting sign-in will begin at 6:00 p.m.

"Texas AgriLife Research and Texas AgriLife Extension Service staffs have been working with landowners to evaluate water quality in the creek, located in the southeastern part of the Texas Panhandle, because of bacterial contamination," said Phyllis Dyer, research assistant and watershed coordinator with Texas AgriLife Research in Vernon.

Results from a three-year monitoring study of the creek in Donley, Collingsworth, and Childress counties suggested that possible sources of the elevated E. coli bacteria are free-ranging animals, including feral hogs, livestock, and wildlife; and human sources, Dyer said.

The Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board provided grant funding to Texas AgriLife Research and the Texas Water Resources Institute (TWRI) to conduct the water quality study and facilitate the development of the watershed protection plan.

Lucas Gregory, a project manager for TWRI, said the meeting will highlight progress being made in the project.

"Stakeholders will also learn about watershed modeling that will be used to help identify areas within the watershed with the highest potential for decreasing bacterial levels by implementing voluntary management practices," Gregory said.

The watershed model will use physical watershed characteristics to estimate these potential bacterial reductions, he said.

"Stakeholder input will greatly improve the accuracy of any bacteria load estimations made through modeling; therefore, we strongly encourage anyone with firsthand knowledge of the watershed to attend the meeting and provide input," said Dale Dunlap, Texas AgriLife Extension agent in Collingsworth County.

Scientists are currently working to identify specific sources of the bacteria in Buck Creek through bacterial source tracking and will continue to work with landowners to evaluate and select potential management alternatives for restoring the waterbody, Dyer said.

These landowner-selected management strategies will be incorporated into the Buck Creek Watershed Protection Plan, which will be a framework for holistically restoring water quality in the creek, she said.

"Stakeholder participation in this project and public meetings are critical to ensure that each person has a chance to participate in the decision-making process and decide what voluntary management measures will be recommended in the watershed protection plan," said Curtis Scrivner, Hall-Childress Soil and Water Conservation District chairman.

For more information see the project website, or contact Phyllis Dyer at 940-414-0195 or PMDyer@ag.tamu.edu.

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