Since 2004, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) listed the Lower Cibolo Creek as an impaired water body for primary contact recreation due to elevated levels of E. coli bacteria. Excessive amounts of the indicator bacteria E. coli in a water body signify an increased risk for disease-causing pathogens to be present in the water body. Both E. coli bacteria and other pathogenic organisms that may be present in Lower Cibolo Creek come from the fecal material of birds and warm-blooded mammals. The Mid and Lower Cibolo Creek watershed also has concerns for elevated levels of nitrate, total phosphorus and depressed dissolved oxygen levels, which can hinder aquatic life.
The watershed has seen increased residential development and increased hydraulic fracturing activity associated with the Eagle Ford Shale formation. With this development, it was increasingly important to develop a plan that protects the watershed’s creeks and streams.
TWRI and the San Antonio River Authority (SARA) worked together to facilitate local stakeholders in the development of a watershed protection plan (WPP). The plan, guided by stakeholder input and the best available data and science, identified the best management practices to achieve the water quality improvement and watershed protection goals identified by stakeholders.
In concert with the WPP, SARA expanded stormwater water quality monitoring to provide additional data to support WPP development. Water quality modeling was developed for the Cibolo Creek Holistic Watershed Master Plan, which contributed to a better understanding of pollutant loadings within the watershed. The new data, models and information from local stakeholders facilitated the development of an effective watershed protection plan that addressed identified concerns in the watershed.