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Water Quality Project Works to Improve Cedar Creek Reservoir
Representatives from the Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board (TSSWCB) and the Kaufman-Van Zandt Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) recently participated in a meeting of the Cedar Creek Watershed Protection Plan Stakeholder Committee in Kaufman, Texas. Landowners and agricultural producers in the Cedar Creek watershed along with agency representatives and local and state government leaders are working on a proactive plan to help reduce pollution flowing into the Cedar Creek Reservoir.
In anticipation of the watershed plan's completion, the TSSWCB has awarded the Kaufman-Van Zandt SWCD a $393,000 grant to employ a conservation technician to develop and implement certified water quality management plans (WQMP) for agricultural producers and rural landowners. WQMPs are site-specific conservation plans that include best management practices (BMP) for improving the quality of runoff that enters lakes and streams.
At the January meeting, a series of specific urban and agricultural nonpoint source BMPs were presented for consideration and ranked by stakeholders. Lee Munz, a Natural Resource Specialist with the TSSWCB, said "it's good to see that the stakeholder process being used for this project is a genuine effort, and the landowners and producers who will be asked to voluntarily implement management practices are the ones making the recommendations." Potential reduction percentages for sediment and nutrients were suggested for consideration by stakeholders, and the group chose to make that a topic for further discussion at the next scheduled meeting. In addition, the floor was opened to a general discussion of stakeholder views. Community education efforts toward nonpoint source pollution and illegal dumping seemed to be viewed as quite important and key to overall reductions.
The 34,000-acre reservoir, southeast of Dallas, is the first of five reservoirs managed by the Tarrant Regional Water District (TRWD) that is being studied. After conducting 15 years of monitoring in Cedar Creek, TRWD confirmed increasing levels of chlorophyll-a. Chlorophyll-a, an indicator of excessive algae growth, is accelerated by excessive nutrients flowing into the reservoir from the surrounding watershed. TRWD officials said they hope to avoid mandatory regulation by engaging in stakeholder-based watershed protection planning focused on holistic solutions to water pollution by examining the impacts of upstream activities.
Watershed-based planning is a relatively new approach to pollution reduction in all sizes of water bodies. The process evaluates the relationship of water quality to land use, soils, hydrology and climate within a single geographic area. "Watershed protection planning is based on the management of activities that take place within the land mass that drains into a specific body of water," said Clint Wolfe, grant and project coordinator with Texas AgriLife Research and Extension Urban Solution Center at Dallas and manager of the project. "By incorporating water quality testing and computer modeling, we are able to assess the condition of Cedar Creek Reservoir and its tributary streams to develop a specific plan of action to address the excessive pollutants."
The overall North Central Texas Water Quality Project is collaborative effort of U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service, TSSWCB, Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, TRWD, Texas Water Resources Institute, Texas AgriLife Research and Extension Urban Solutions Center at Dallas, Texas AgriLife Extension Service, Espey Consultants Inc. and Alan Plummer and Associates, Inc.
In addition to the funding granted to the Kaufman-Van Zandt SWCD, the TSSWCB also awarded Texas AgriLife Research, Extension Urban Solutions Center at Dallas a $344,000 grant. This grant will be used by the Center to demonstrate the effectiveness of several agricultural BMPs identified in the Cedar Creek Watershed Protection Plan such as the conversion of cropland to pastureland, grassed waterways and filter strips. All of the grant funds awarded to the SWCD and Texas Agrilife Research by the TSSWCB are made available through the EPA Clean Water Act, Section 319(h) Nonpoint Source Grant Program.
For more information on the Cedar Creek Watershed Protection Plan or the overall North Central Texas Water Quality Project, please visit http://nctx-water.tamu.edu/pages/home/, or contact Clint Wolfe at 972-952-9653 / cwolfe [at] ag.tamu.edu. For more information on the TSSWCB's Agricultural Nonpoint Source Remediation in the Cedar Creek Reservoir Watershed project, please visit http://www.tsswcb.state.tx.us/managementprogram/cedarcreek or contact Lee Munz at 254-773-2250, ext. 241 / lmunz [at] tsswcb.state.tx.us.
The Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board grants permission for the use of this information as a free service to the news media. Articles may be used either in their entirety or in part, provided that attribution remains. You may print the story and/or post it on the Internet.