San Bernard River

H-GAC is facilitating the watershed protection planning process for the rural and developing watershed of the San Bernard River. The San Bernard River Watershed includes portions of Austin, Colorado, Fort Bend, Wharton and Brazoria counties and is approximately 900 square miles. The San Bernard River flows about 125 miles from the headwaters near New Ulm in Austin County to the Gulf of Mexico.

Elevated levels of bacteria in several portions of the river prevent it from meeting State standards for contact recreation. The TCEQ added the San Bernard River on the 303(d) list in 2002 for bacteria. The tidally influenced portion of the river also has had low levels of dissolved oxygen; however, the dissolved oxygen levels have returned to normal due to the reopening of the mouth of the river. The TCEQ awarded the H-GAC Federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds for three projects to maintain and improve the river's water quality: development of a WWP, incorporation of Best Management Practices in local jurisdictions, and an analysis of non-point source pollution through the use of Geographic Information Systems.

A contract with TCEQ was initiated in September 2009. Three kickoff meetings and watershed tours were conducted in fall 2009. Starting in January 2010, stakeholder meetings have been held every other month and attended by the Stakeholder Committee and the public. Through participant input, H-GAC developed a map of causes and sources of pollution and a Watershed Characterization and Inventory. In January 2010, Texas AgriLife Extension Service hosted a Watershed Steward in the watershed that was well-attended by local stakeholders. In May 2010, H-GAC hosted a Texas Stream Team training session to train volunteer water monitors living in the watershed. In summer 2010, H-GAC completed Quality Assurance Project Plans (QAPPs) for the modeling and monitoring portions of the project. Quarterly ambient monitoring will be continued at eight sites in the watershed throughout the project. H-GAC continues to work in coordination with the TSSWCB and the United Stated Department of Agriculture Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) to identify stakeholders and gather information about the watershed. The Watershed Protection Plan is scheduled to be completed by July 2011.

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