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Leon River Watershed Protection Plan Project

Project Goals/Objectives: (1) To use a locally-driven, stakeholder process to develop a Watershed Protection Plan for the Leon River Watershed above Lake Belton; (2) To enhance data collection efforts to support and facilitate implementation activities; (3) To provide the TSSWCB and the TCEQ with recommendations on implementation strategies that can be incorporated into the TMDL Implementation Plan; and (4) To provide an overall assessment of the Leon River Watershed above Lake Belton.

The Leon River below Lake Proctor watershed (Segment 1221) encompasses approximately 1,375 square miles in central Texas. The watershed is predominately in Hamilton, Coryell, and Comanche Counties with smaller portions in Mills, Erath, and McLennan Counties. This portion of the river is bounded upstream by Proctor Lake and downstream by Belton Lake.

In 1998, the entirety of Segment 1221 was placed on the State of Texas Clean Water Act §303(d) List for having bacteria levels that "sometimes exceed water quality standards". In 2000, the entirety of Segment 1221 was placed on the 303(d) List for bacteria levels "Not Supporting Contact Recreation Use". The 2002 303(d) List identified only the "Portion of segment north of Gustine" and the "Portion of segment west of US Hwy 281" as having a bacteria impairment.

In September 2002, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) initiated a Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) Modeling Study of the Leon River. A TMDL Modeling Report has been issued that suggests bacteria loadings into the Leon River need to be reduced by approximately 21% to meet water quality standards and support contact recreation use.

Local stakeholders expressed interest in taking an active role in developing management strategies to reduce bacteria loadings. At a TMDL Steering Committee meeting in Hamilton on January 12, 2006, the Brazos River Authority (BRA) was asked by the stakeholders to take the lead in facilitating this Watershed Protection Plan (WPP) approach.

BRA will organize a Stakeholder Group consisting of but not limited to representatives from cities, County Commissioner's Courts, agricultural producers' groups, wildlife interests, soil and water conservation districts and the dairy industry. A Technical Advisory Group will also be formed to provide expertise to the Stakeholder Group and will consist of representatives from federal, state, and local agencies, universities, and other entities as needed.

BRA will continue to operate routine water quality monitoring sites throughout the basin under the Texas Clean Rivers Program to provide long-term water quality data for this project. The Data Collection task will include water quality monitoring conducted by BRA, as well as, any other special studies that may be conducted to better understand the pollution sources contributing to the impairment.

Stakeholders have expressed some concerns with the water quality model developed for the TMDL. The Water Quality Model Enhancement task will use information from stakeholders combined with the most current water quality monitoring data to refine the model to better determine the most appropriate load reduction strategies.

The development of a Leon River Watershed Protection Plan will allow local stakeholders to have much more ownership of identified load reduction strategies that will ultimately result in improved water quality throughout the Leon River watershed. The strategies identified in the Watershed Protection Plan will provide the TCEQ a list of recommended strategies that could be incorporated into the TMDL Implementation Plan.

Project Location: Leon River Watershed, primarily in Comanche, Coryell and Hamilton Counties

Project Costs: Federal ($440,525); Non Federal Match ($293,683); Total Project ($734,208)

Project Participant(s): TSSWCB, Brazos River Authority

Project Workplan: 06-12

Quality Assurance Project Plan: 06-12 

Project Final Report: 06-12

"Protecting and Enhancing Natural Resources since 1939."

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