PECOS/ IRAAN — Two free Texas Watershed Steward Program trainings on water quality and availability issues related to the Pecos River Watershed will be held from 8 a.m.–4 p.m. on June 28 and 29 in West Texas.
The June 28 program will be held at the Pecos Community Hall, 508 S. Oak Street in Pecos. On June 29, the program will be held in Iraan at the Civic Center at 9271 Alley Oop Lane.
Trainings are sponsored by the Texas AgriLife Extension Service and the Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board in coordination with the Texas Water Resources Institute. They are open to anyone interested in improving the water quality of the Pecos River Watershed.
“The training is designed to help watershed residents improve and protect their water resources by becoming involved in local watershed protection and management activities,” said Mark McFarland, AgriLife Extension specialist in College Station.
McFarland said the workshop will include an overview of water quality and watershed management in Texas and will primarily focus on water-quality issues relating to the Pecos River Watershed, including current efforts to help improve the health of this important water source.
Training presentations will include a discussion of watershed systems, types and sources of water pollution, and ways to improve and protect water quality. There also will be a group discussion on community driven watershed protection and management.
The Pecos was once a critical source of water in the Trans-Pecos region of the state, providing early settlers with abundant water to irrigate crops and water livestock, noted Gary Bryant, AgriLife Extension program specialist and Pecos River Watershed coordinator at Fort Stockton.
“Today, however, the river’s flow has dwindled to a trickle in some areas, and its salinity is so high that use for irrigation and livestock watering is limited in many instances,” Bryant said. “In addition, dissolved oxygen levels in portions of the river do not meet Texas’ water-quality standards. This reduced quality and quantity of water has harmed the river basin’s biodiversity.”
Through the development and implementation of a watershed protection plan for the Pecos River in Texas, efforts are being taken to restore the watershed and improve water quality, he said. Activities currently under way include the development of water-quality management plans, additional spraying of salt cedar, buringin woody debris and further investigation into the causes of the dissolved oxygen impairment.
“Implementing the watershed protection plan is a voluntary effort that landowners participate in to enhance their existing operations while improving the overall health of the watershed,” Bryant said. “Furthermore, delivering educational programming such as the Texas Watershed Steward Program is also a part of plan implementation and is a critical step that informs landowners of how individual actions impact overall water quality.”
Along with the free training, participants receive a free copy of the Texas Watershed Steward Handbook and a certificate of completion, McFarland said. The program also offers seven continuing education units in soil and water management for certified crop advisers, seven units for professional engineers and certified planners, and seven continuing education credits for certified teachers. It also offers three general continuing education units for Texas Department of Agriculture pesticide license holders, seven for certified landscape architects and three for certified floodplain managers.
“Workshop participants need to take a minute to complete the quick and easy online registration form on our website to ensure there are enough materials for everyone,” McFarland said. “Participating in the training is a great opportunity to get involved and make a difference in your watershed.”
For more information and to pre-register, go to http://tws.tamu.edu or contact McFarland at 979-845-2425 or email@example.com.
For more information on the training in Pecos, contact Logan Lair, AgriLife Extension agent in Reeves County, at 432-447-9041 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information on the training in Iraan, contact Norman Fryar, AgriLife Extension agent in Pecos County, at 432-336-2541 or email@example.com.
For more information on watershed protection plan implementation efforts throughout the Pecos River Watershed, contact Bryant at 432-336-3813 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Texas Watershed Steward program is funded by the Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board through a Clean Water Act §319(h) grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.