Key Environmental Programs

GBEP

H-GAC, TCEQ and GBEP partnered to address growing concerns for water quality in the Bastrop Bayou Watershed as a result of failing septic systems, illegal dumping and storm water discharge. Specific concerns included potential bacteria, turbidity, pesticide and nutrient loading of Bastrop Bayou and Christmas Bay.

In response to these complaints and in an effort to determine the presence or absence of water quality impacts within the Bastrop Bayou watershed, GBEP and H-GAC's Clean Rivers Program launched a watershed risk assessment project during the fall of 2004. Bastrop Bayou and its main tributaries contained elevated concentrations of bacteria that exceed the state screening levels for contact recreation.

H-GAC began working with partners and a stakeholder group to develop a watershed protection plan (WPP) for Bastrop Bayou. The need for this WPP was highlighted in 2009 when the first case of waterborne cholera in the United States since 2005 was reported in the Demi-John community within the watershed. H-GAC submitted a draft of the plan to TCEQ in 2010.

TSSWCB

Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board (TSSWCB) is a significant funding partner with H-GAC on projects such as EnvirocastÒ, which partnered H-GAC with a local broadcast television channel and other environmental agencies in the region to produce environmentally focused web content and news stories. TSSWCB is also an active participant in the Cedar Bayou WPP planning process which began in 2010.

TSSWCB is the state agency that administers Texas' soil and water conservation law and coordinates conservation and nonpoint source pollution abatement programs throughout the state. TSSWCB offer technical assistance to the state's 216 soil and water conservation districts.

Agrilife Extension Service

As part of both the Bastrop Bayou WPP and the San Bernard River WPP development and stakeholder engagement activities, H-GAC, in partnership with Texas AgriLife Extension Service, provided Texas Watershed Steward Training to interested stakeholders. The training gave attendees an overview of the watershed planning process and helped stakeholders become more comfortable with concepts and terminology.

Texas AgriLife Extension Service is also active in the Armand Bayou area and partnered with H-GAC to assist with a variety of water quality education programs and demonstrations in Dickinson Bayou Watershed during the development of the WWP for that area.

Other Participants

Area residents play a key oversight role throughout the Clean Rivers process through their review of assessment products and through their attendance and input at committee meetings and other Clean Rivers events.

H-GAC's local government entity members and other interested individuals and organizations receive updates on Clean Rivers Program progress through newsletters, staff presentations, and distribution of basin assessment report summaries and other program materials across the region.

Key Factors influencing water quality

Numerous activities occur in watersheds that can generate pollutants—everything from industrial and agricultural processes to everyday activities such as lawn care and auto maintenance. Looking at pollutants at a watershed level allows simultaneous analysis of multiple water bodies and potential sources of pollution.

The results of the Clean Rivers Program process help set the agenda for all other water quality management programs: monitoring, standards development, permitting, enforcement, public outreach, and field investigations and research. At the same time, these programs take advantage of the basin assessment process to see that their information needs are addressed and in line with local priorities. In the end, the underlying goal of the entire Clean Rivers Program process is to make the most effective use possible of the valuable public funds already directed toward water quality protection.

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