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Texas Stream Team Spring 2015 Newsletter


Prepared in cooperation with The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and the Environmental Protection Agency.

Hello Texas Stream Team,

 

Well, it was just this spring when we were talking about Texas being in one of the worst droughts on record.  Then the rains came.  Unfortunately, the rains all came at once.  May was the wettest month in the history of Texas, with many areas receiving almost a year’s worth of precipitation.  This caused significant flooding in North Texas, Houston, and Austin among many other places.  Down here, we had some pretty bad flooding on the Blanco River from Blanco, Texas on down to Martindale.  The Memorial Day Flood caused to Blanco River to rise over 40 feet in Wimberley, Texas taking out cars, homes, and cypress trees in the process.

In the aftermath, several of our monitoring sites were inundated in water and our citizen scientists were unable to access them.  Please do not go out to monitor your sites if it is unsafe.  If you are unable to sample your site due to flooding, you can still submit your data to us by recording the Flow as “Flood” under the field observations.  That way we know that the site is inaccessible rather than wonder if the site went inactive due to a monitor dropping out.  This also provides us with an important record indicating the impact of flooding like what happened this summer.

Stay safe and have a fun time on the water!

Travis Tidwell
Monitoring Program Coordinator – Texas Stream Team
The Meadows Center for Water and the Environment

An uprooted cypress tree along the banks of the Blanco River in Wimberley, Texas after the Memorial Day Flood. Picture courtesy of Travis Tidwell.
Austin Youth River Watch visits The Meadows Center for Water and the Environment
By Briane Willis

Austin Youth River Watch joined Texas Stream Team this summer to explore Spring Lake. The two groups of teenagers were well-versed in the monitoring protocol and had an interesting time comparing the results from water bodies they monitor in Austin to Spring Lake results.  The River Watchers also peaked into the world of environmental science professionals by viewing a video of interviews of Texas Stream Team staff.
 
Brent Lyles, Execute Director of Austin Youth River Watch, said of the experience:
 
"We'd love for our River Watchers to attend Texas State and study water -- and then eventually work at The Meadows Center! Many of our students will be the first in their family to attend college, so it was great for them to get to sleep in a dorm and get a tour of the campus. These experiences help demystify college and show how fun it can be. Getting to visit with staff and scientists at The Meadows Center was a huge bonus. We want our River Watchers to meet potential role models whenever possible, and it's great for our students to make the connection between their work in our program as water-quality monitors and potential real-world careers."

Austin Youth River Watch works with 120 high school students each year, engaging them in holistic, youth-development activities that focus on environmental stewardship and academic success. These students test water quality in Austin’s streams and the Colorado River, and they submit their results to the City of Austin and the Lower Colorado River Authority.
 
In the 23-year history of River Watch, their seniors have an almost 100 percent graduation rate, compared with graduation rates as low as 30–50 percent for “at-risk” populations. The students’ water-quality data are actively used by water managers statewide, and many times, River Watch students have identified dangerous spills and other threats to waterways in Central Texas.
 
Learn more at ayrw.org!

The Coastal Bend Regional Texas Stream Team
By Travis Tidwell

The Meadows Center for Water and the Environment is partnering with The Center for Coastal Studies at Texas A&M Corpus Christi, the Nueces River Authority, and the Coastal Bend Bays Foundation to set up a Stream Team in the Corpus Christi area.

A South Texas Regional meeting was held at the South Texas Botanical Gardens in Corpus Christi on July 30th.  Those in attendance learned about Texas Stream Team, citizen science, and water quality monitoring.  Each of the Texas Stream Team partners also got to tell the audience a little bit about their programs and the work they are doing in the Coastal Bend area to improve water quality.  Oso Creek, Oso Bay, the Lower Nueces River, and the Corpus Christi Beach are all listed as impaired for not meeting their designated state standard for bacteria.  In addition, nearby Petronila Creek is impaired for total dissolved solids.  The Center for Coastal Studies, the Nueces River Authority, and the Coastal Bend Bays Foundation are all working with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality on the Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) projects in these watersheds.

The next day, 26 residents of the area attended a Core Water Quality Training and became certified Texas Stream Team Monitors.  Many of those in attendance were teachers, college students from TAMUCC, and staff members from the new partners.  These citizen scientists will be supported by the local partners and will monitor designated sites in the impaired watersheds to collect data for the TMDL’s.

“The formation of a citizen based group, the Coastal Bend Regional Stream Team, will be the backbone in promoting local environmental awareness about water quality in our area,” Erin Hill, a Research Specialist with The Center for Coastal Studies said. “The CCS will provide support to local certified monitors that so graciously volunteer their time and care about our local waters.”

Texas Stream Team looks forward to working with the new partners and citizen scientists in the Coastal Bend!

Citizen scientists with the new Coastal Bend Regional Stream Team undergo a Core Water Quality Monitoring Training. Photo courtesy of Travis Tidwell.
Kiwanians hear about water testing program.
Naturalist gives presentation on the importance of water quality

Note: The following article was originally written by Monique Brand, a staff writer with The Kerrville Daily Times.  It was reprinted with permission.

A team of volunteers has committed to testing water throughout the county to help protect public health.  Among those volunteers is master naturalist Floyd Trefny, who spoke to an assemblage of local Kiwanians on Thursday.

“We make sure that our residents throughout the Hill Country and state are updated on the quality of their water,” Trefny said.  “Water is not only important to drink, but for us to eat as well.”

The volunteers are part of the Stream Team and Citizen Science Program, said Trefny, who members of the Kiwanis Club of Kerrville invited to speak at their regular meeting at the Salvation Army Ray and Joan Kroc Corps Community Center.

Terfny said volunteers are on the lookout for signs of pollution from factory pipes and wastewater effluent.

“But we have to remember that dog waste from your backyards, farms and even oil dripped from our cars can also affect our water quality,” Trefny said.

The Stream Team measures aspects of water including temperature, conductivity, dissolved oxygen, and pH.  Data is then included in an open-source database, and it sometimes can reveal fish kills, spills, and other pollution events.

The 20 year stream team program is a partnership between the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and Texas State University’s Meadows Center for Water and the Environment.

“We have our families and loved ones to be mindful of when it comes to health,” said Susan Goodwin, president of the local Kiwanis Club. “We are thankful of his presentation”.

Texas Stream Team Monitoring Summary for 2015


Here are some statistics about Texas Stream Team water quality monitoring for 2015.  Remember, if you have datasheets that need to be submitted, you can mail them to:

Texas Stream Team
601 University Dr.
San Marcos, TX 78666

Or you can scan and email a copy to txstreamteam@txstate.edu.  Keep up the good work!

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Water is a hot topic in Texas – and it’s getting hotter. Register for Trib + Water to stay informed. This bi-weekly newsletter is brought to you at no cost by The Meadows Center for the Environment and The Texas Tribune.

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