EM-113 Best Management Practices (BMPs) and Water Quality Parameters of Selected Farms Located in the Arroyo Colorado Watershed

Authors: A. Berthold, J. Enciso

Excess water from various landscape activities in the Lower Rio Grande Valley are drained through the Arroyo Colorado eventually emptying into the lower Laguna Madre. The Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge and several county and city parks are located within the Arroyo Colorado watershed. The watershed is also the habitat of several semi-tropical plants and animal species. The Arroyo Colorado also boasts many recreational opportunities and attracts a large number of tourists annually. Agriculture, municipal and industrial activities are all contributors to water quality issues and impairments in the Arroyo Colorado watershed. The main concern coming from agriculture are chemicals such as fertilizers and pesticides that can be carried with the irrigation water through runoff and deep percolation. Agricultural producers can improve the water quality of the Arroyo Colorado by implementing best management practices (BMPs) that reduce nonpoint source (NPS) pollution from agricultural lands. Several demonstrations, one further described below, have been developed since 2006 to characterize the water quality of irrigation and runoff water and to evaluate the effectiveness of BMPs on water quality at the field and sub-watershed level. These activities have been conducted in an effort to implement the Arroyo Colorado Watershed Protection Plan and achieve its goals of reducing pollution from various sources, one of those being agriculture.