Conclusion

H-GAC's Clean Rivers Program is the cornerstone around which most water quality initiatives in the region are built. The data collected and the analysis of that data feeds into Watershed Protection Plans, the Water Quality Management Plan, Water Quality Standards, and TMDL Implementation Plans. CRP ambient monitoring data has pointed to problem areas throughout the region and has led to numerous special studies that are able to focus on discreet locations or specific parameters of concern. CRP data collection has been counted as match for many water quality initiatives not only at H-GAC, but by other local entities that are conducting similar projects.

The TCEQ provides a detailed analysis of water quality data to determine which segments are not meeting their water quality standards every two years in the Texas Integrated Report. The beauty of the Clean Rivers Program is that it doesn't duplicate that assessment, it takes that assessment a step further and looks at what the trends in water quality are for those segments. Is water quality improving or getting worse?

CRP also takes the time to try and determine what the sources and causes of pollution are. There are the usual suspects for various parameters. As an example, a rural watershed may have significantly elevated levels of bacteria. The sources we might expect to contribute to that bacteria impairment are cattle, failing OSSFs, wild animals, and migratory birds. Through H-GAC's other water quality programs, extensive monitoring, watershed characterization, habitat assessment, and water quality modeling may have revealed that failing septic systems is actually the leading cause of elevated bacteria in that watershed.

The reverse is also true. Many segments in this report have been shown to have significant improvements in water quality. The Clean Rivers Program is looking for the reasons behind those improvements. Why are bacteria levels dropping in certain watersheds? Is it due to weather? Have there been substantial BMPs implemented within the watershed? H-GAC is working to better quantify those answers through different water quality programs. Through the Bacteria TMDL and Water Quality Management Plan, H-GAC is developing a BMP database. A central repository where local jurisdictions will be able to enter information regarding the types of BMPs or management measures that are being put in place in local watersheds. The installation of detention ponds with water quality features can be recorded. Capital improvement projects that remove sanitary sewer bypasses and overflows can be documented. This data is then able to be merged through GIS and more meaningful analysis of problems or improvements can be made.

H-GAC has also taken some very large steps in public outreach and education. In November of 2009, H-GAC unveiled the Water Resources Interactive Map (WRIM). The website allows the user to display all ambient water quality monitoring sites in the region and retrieve any associated data. It also allows the user to display watershed boundaries, local jurisdictions, and waste water treatment facilities.

Texas Stream Team continues to expand and certify new volunteers. Data collection and observations by local volunteers have led to measurable water quality improvements. H-GAC's Clean Waters Initiative workshops have touched hundreds of individuals, resource professionals, and the business community. Topics of CWI workshops range from failing OSSFs to Low Impact Development to watershed conservation.

Here is a list of Public Outreach and Education Programs we have here at H-GAC:

  • WRIM

  • Texas Stream Team

  • Environmental Awareness Roundtable

  • Clean Waters Initiative

  • Website

  • Department Newsletter

  • Stakeholder groups for the BIG, Westfield Estates, Bastrop Bayou, San Bernard, Cedar Bayou, Oyster Creek

Best management practices identified during this project include:

  • community cleanup events

  • increased enforcement

  • alternative watering sources for cattle

  • educational activities

  • building constructed wetlands and detention basins

  • package waste water treatment plants in lieu of OSSFs

  • improvement of municipal and Home Owner Association ordinances

General Urban Runoff

  • Educational signage prohibiting illegal dumping and posted at waterway entry points throughout the watershed. (starting in 2010)

  • Obtain four parcels of land, to buffer the Bayou and its tributaries, serve as a barrier against direct stormwater runoff, and set aside properties from development pressures. Long term, up to 3 years.

  • Small-scale Best Management Practice (BMP) projects (pervious pavement, green roofs, rain gardens, etc.). (Pilot projects in 2010; recommended for widespread implementation starting in 2011.)

  • Large-scale remediation projects (stormwater detention ponds, natural storm water filtration, constructed wetlands, vegetated swales, etc.). (pilot projects start in 2010, and recommendations for widespread implementation starting in 2012, pending funding)

  • Education and policy initiatives, including surveys (2010), WaterSmart demonstration gardens (2011), and revised HOA bylaws for new communities (2010).

On-Site OSSFs (OSSFs)

  • Identification of malfunctioning OSSFs by the Brazoria County Health District (2010-2012)

  • Installation of sanitary sewer service for the Demi-John community (2010-2012), pending resident approval

  • Development and promotion of a model OSSF maintenance guide for inclusion in new HOA bylaws.

Land Management (Livestock)

  • Incentive-based, voluntary efforts (fencing, alternative water sources, etc.) to keep cattle out of waterways. (Educational information in 2009, project implementation by 2010)

General Urban Runoff Source

  • Develop Small Scale Low Impact Development Practices to include pervious pavement projects, green roof projects, and rain gardens

  • Develop Large Scale BMP's to include Stormwater Detention Ponds, new large Wetland Detention areas, and swales

  • Provide illegal dumping signs for existing access points to Bastrop Bayou and its tributaries

  • Land Acquisition assistance, for buffer strips and set asides

Onsite Sanitary Sewer Facilities

  • Identification, Inspection, and repair (if necessary) of near Bayou OSSFs

  • Develop model Home Owner Association by-laws for new communities. Request existing communities to adopt HOA changes. Of specific importance will be OSSFs.

Agriculture and Wildlife

  • Voluntary land management improvements, to fence animals away from the bayou and tributaries

  • Provide alternative water supplies for cattle

  • Provide incentives for the above-mentioned BMP's

  • Animal Waste BMP's

  • Vegetated buffer strips to trap nutrient runoff/ conservation easements

  • Promote community hunter education courses and organize community-wide events to celebrate and support feral hog hunting

Pets

  • Pooper Scooper program at city parks with mutt mitt dispensers and trash cans placed adjacently

  • Improved HOA by-laws

  • Increase awareness and enforcement of pet control ordinances

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