Big Cypress Creek meeting to discuss watershed restoration plans

Man measuring stream flow

Randy Rushin, aquatic scientist and vice president of Water Monitoring Solutions, takes a stream-flow measurement on Hart Creek. (Texas AgriLife Research photo)

MOUNT PLEASANT – Residents in the Big Cypress Creek watershed of Titus, Morris, Camp and Upshur counties wanting to give their input into the future direction of restoring the watershed are invited to a meeting July 18, according to an official with the Texas Water Resources Institute.

The meeting, hosted by the Northeast Texas Municipal Water District and the Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board, is set for 6-8 p.m. at the Mount Pleasant Civic Center, 1800 N. Jefferson Ave., Mount Pleasant, said Aaron Hoff, institute project manager.

Hoff said a project assessing the bacterial impairments in the Big Cypress Creek Watershed is winding down, and the next stage to restoring the watershed needs to be planned.

“Using the conclusions gained from analyzing the results, we will work with stakeholders to decide on the next step in the watershed restoration process, which may be through a total maximum daily load project, watershed protection plan or other voluntary measures,” Hoff said.

Big Cypress Creek flows between Lake Bob Sandlin and Lake O’ the Pines in northeast Texas. The creek and its tributaries, Tankersley and Hart creeks, are on the state’s list of impaired waters for having bacteria levels that exceed water quality standards.

Scientists with Texas AgriLife Research will present results from a software program called the Spatially Explicit Load Enrichment Calculation Tool, or SELECT, regarding water quality management information.

“Inputs to SELECT such as land use, land cover, population data, animal sources and other information are used to pinpoint where best management practices to help restore the watershed need to be applied,” said Lee Thomas, Northeast Texas Municipal Water District watershed coordinator.

Results from bacterial source tracking, another tool used to pinpoint sources of bacteria pollution, will also be presented at the meeting and used by the stakeholders to help them decide which avenue to take, said Dr. Terry Gentry, assistant professor in Texas A&M’s department of soil and crop sciences.

“Bacterial source tracking is an important tool for determining the impact of humans and animals on water quality and targeting control efforts where they would be most beneficial,” Gentry said.

Randy Rushin of Water Monitoring Solutions Inc. will present findings from the analysis of recreational use of the watershed. A recreational-use attainability analysis describes the impaired water body and can help determine which water quality standard category is most appropriate for the water body.

“This analysis helps us know the true level of contact recreation occurring and whether we should try to seek revision of the watershed’s designated recreational-use standard,” Rushin said.

The Texas Water Resources Institute, part of AgriLife Research, the Texas AgriLife Extension Service and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Texas A&M University, manages the project addressing the bacterial impairments in the Big Cypress Creek watershed.
The funding for this project was through a state general revenue nonpoint source grant from Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board.

For more information about the meeting, visit the project website at http://bcc.tamu.edu or contact Thomas at 903-639-7538 or LThomas@netmwd.com.

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