SMITHVILLE – A no-cost Texas Watershed Steward Workshop on water quality issues related to the Lost Pines Region will be held from 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. on June 12 at the American Legion Hall, 145 American Legion Road, Smithville.
The workshop is open to anyone interested in improving water quality in and around Bastrop County, said program coordinators. Participants are encouraged to preregister.
The workshop is presented by the Texas AgriLife Extension Service and the Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board in coordination with Environmental Stewardship, a regional non-profit organization working to protect and restore natural resources in the area.
“The workshop is designed to help watershed residents improve and protect their water resources by becoming involved in local watershed protection and management activities,” said Galen Roberts, AgriLife Extension program specialist and coordinator for the Texas Watershed Steward Program.
Roberts said the workshop will include an overview of water quality and watershed management in Texas, but will primarily focus on water quality issues relating to the Colorado River, including current efforts to help improve and protect water in the area.
Training during the workshop will include a discussion of watershed systems, types and sources of water pollution, and ways to improve and protect water quality. A group discussion on community-driven watershed protection and management will also be held.
The workshop is being held in conjunction with ongoing protection efforts in the Colorado River watershed. Environmental Stewardship, in coordination with the Lower Colorado River Authority and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, has proposed the development of a watershed protection plan for Bastrop County.
“The Colorado River is an important resource for the area” said Steve Box, executive director for Environmental Stewardship. “The river is a part of the rural character of the Lost Pines Region, is a source of water for agriculture, supports fishing and recreational activities, and is a significant wildlife habitat. We are employing a watershed-based approach to river management. And protecting the Colorado River begins with water quality and resource protection activities throughout the basin.”
He said the plan would encompass more than 655,000 acres in 13 sub-watersheds in Bastrop County and extend into parts of Caldwell, Fayette, Lee, and Travis counties. The plan would outline a strategy for protecting water quality in the area and help prevent future water quality impairments.
Addressing these issues now can help prevent regulatory action in the future, Box noted.
“We encourage stakeholders to attend the Watershed Steward Workshop and to become more engaged in these efforts,” Roberts said.
Along with the free training, participants will receive a free copy of the Texas Watershed Steward Handbook and a certificate of completion. 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.
“Participating in the Texas Watershed Steward program is a great opportunity to get involved and make a difference in your watershed,” Roberts said.
The Texas Watershed Steward program is funded through a Clean Water Act nonpoint source grant from the Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.