March 28 meeting will address water quality in Copano Bay watershed

REFUGIO  –  Water quality impairments of the Copano Bay watershed and how to address them will be discussed at a meeting to be held from 5:30 – 7:15 p.m. March 28 at the Refugio County Community Center, 305 Swift Street in Refugio.

“Residents in the Copano Bay watershed can learn about the different approaches to addressing water quality impairments in the watershed and help make the decision on which watershed planning approach is preferred,” said Allen Berthold, project manager with the Texas Water Resources Institute.

Copano Bay, whose watershed includes portions of Bee, Goliad, San Patricio, Refugio and Aransas counties, is impaired because of elevated bacteria concentrations from various sources. (Photo courtesy of Texas Water Resources Institute)

The institute is part of Texas AgriLife Research, the Texas AgriLife Extension Service and the Texas A&M University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

Dr. Kevin Wagner, associate director of the institute, will give a general overview of water quality in Copano Bay and its watershed, which occupies portions of Bee, Goliad, San Patricio, Refugio and Aransas counties.

Copano Bay is on Texas’ 2010 Water Quality Integrated Report and list of impaired waters because the bay is not suitable for harvesting oysters due to elevated bacteria concentrations from various sources, Wagner said.

The list identifies water bodies that do not meet the state’s water quality standards for their designated uses as required by the federal Clean Water Act, he said.

“In addition, bacteria also impair the tidal segments of the Mission and Aransas rivers,” Wagner said.

Berthold will give an overview of available alternatives to address these impairments, including the total maximum daily load process or a watershed protection planning process.

“Developing stakeholder-driven plans to restore water quality is a great approach for addressing water quality impairments,” Berthold said. “Not only do stakeholders know what key sources of water quality impairments are, they also have excellent ideas about how to correct their impairments.”

Participants will have the opportunity to decide the next steps for restoring the Copano Bay watershed, Berthold said.

The project is funded by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.

For more information about the meeting, contact Berthold at 979-845-2028, or email taberthold@ag.tamu.edu.

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