BELLVILLE — The Mill Creek Watershed Partnership will host a meeting focusing on rainwater harvesting from 6-7:15 p.m. Nov. 5 at the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service office for Austin County, 20 S. Holland St., Bellville.
There is no cost to attend the program. Sign in and refreshments will be at 5:30 p.m. and the program will start at 6 p.m.
“There will be a brief overview of the Mill Creek Watershed Protection Plan Project before moving on to the main program, which will be about rainwater harvesting,” said Ward Ling, AgriLife Extension’s Mill Creek watershed coordinator. “Door prizes will be given out during the program, which will include a 50-gallon rain barrel.”
Ling will present the project update and rainwater harvesting program.
The partnership was formed in 2015 in response to a bacteria impairment in Mill Creek, Ling explained. Mill Creek did not meet the contact recreation standard due to elevated E. coli concentrations, so stakeholders developed a comprehensive watershed protection plan. The plan was completed in 2015, and accepted by the EPA in early 2016 and implementation has been underway ever
Ling noted the plan was voluntary and has a heavy focus on outreach and education as well as voluntary adoption of best management practices in both the urban and rural environments.
“One of these practices is rainwater harvesting,” he said. “Rainwater harvesting is an innovative alternative water supply approach that anyone can use. It is the act of capturing, diverting and storing rainwater for later use.”
Ling said rainwater harvesting has many benefits, including lowering demand to existing water supplies and reducing runoff and contamination.
“The size of collection and storage systems can vary,” he said. “Homeowners can begin by collecting rainwater in a bucket under the eaves of a roof or from a gutter system. There are storage tanks that range from a few gallons all the way up to several thousand gallons.”
Rainwater harvesting is a way to collect high-quality water that area ranchers can use to water livestock and wildlife as well as use for fire control, said Haylee Wolfford, AgriLife Extension agent, Austin County.
“There are costs to get started, depending on the size of your system, but the long-term benefits are substantial,” Wolfford said
Ling and Wolfford said the goal of the meeting is to update area stakeholders about the Mill Creek project and present rainwater harvesting in a way that shows how everyone can take part.
“I am excited to reconnect with the stakeholders in the upcoming meeting and future events,” Ling said. “When the project began back in 2015, I participated in the planning meetings and am now looking forward to getting more involved in the implementation of the Mill Creek Watershed Protection Plan.”
Funding for this effort is provided through a federal Clean Water Act §319(h) nonpoint source grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency administered by the Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board.