EPA accepts Tres Palacios Creek Watershed Protection Plan

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently accepted the Tres Palacios Creek Watershed Protection Plan, developed by the Texas Water Resources Institute (TWRI).

Part of the Matagorda Bay system, the Tres Palacios Creek watershed, covers 268 square miles in Matagorda and Wharton counties and empties into the Tres Palacios Bay.

The plan was accepted as it met EPA’s national guidelines for watershed-based plans and effectively outlined a strategy to improve the watershed’s tidal segments impaired by excessive bacteria and depressed dissolved oxygen, plan developers said.

“We are pleased with EPA’s acceptance of the plan,” said Dr. John Tracy, Texas Water Resources Institute director. “The plan sets forth an approach to improve resource stewardship that allows stakeholders to rely on watershed resources for their livelihood while also helping to restore the quality of its water resources.”

“Voluntary efforts by local landowners, business representatives, soil and water conservation districts, city and county personnel and many more stakeholders collaborated to develop this plan that will improve water quality in the Tres Palacios,” said Michael Schramm, a TWRI research associate. “Without active participation from community members in planning sessions and meetings, this plan never would have materialized.

“The plan demonstrates how voluntary actions and collaboration between watershed stakeholders will mitigate pollutant sources in a way that is compatible with the goals of local businesses and landowners,” Schramm said.

With the acceptance of the plan, Schramm said the institute is now working with local stakeholders to assist with implementing management measures identified to reduce bacteria and nutrient loads reaching the creek. The first meeting is set for June 21. The meeting will be at 1:30 p.m. at the First United Methodist Church, 209 Lucas Ave. in Palacios. 

Schramm said the meeting will provide an update on recent water quality conditions and a discussion about ongoing and upcoming projects. The goal of the meeting is to provide stakeholders with a picture of implementation status and identify where local stakeholders can get involved to improve water quality.

“We’re encouraging citizens of the region to attend this meeting as their input is essential for identifying land and water issues and ensuring that appropriate and desirable management measures are addressed,” he said.

The watershed plan is currently available for download. For more information about the project, visit its website.

Development of the plan was funded through Texas Commission on Environmental Quality’s Total Maximum Daily Load Program to the Texas Water Resources Institute.

Read the AgriLife Today article on the EPA acceptance.

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