The fate of Nolan Creek/South Nolan Creek lies in the hands of its users.
The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and the Texas Institute for Applied Environmental Research held a public meeting Sept. 5 at the Harker Heights Activity Center to discuss water quality and watershed based planning for the Nolan Creek/South Nolan Creek project.
More than 30 community members had the opportunity to help TCEQ and TIAER develop an effective plan to reach stakeholders with specific information and social marketing solutions to garner support and change behaviors throughout the watershed area.
Many community members spoke out and shared ideas to help identify water quality educational needs. They also provided input on outreach activities to get the message across.
“If we all work together, we can get Nolan Creek off the 303(d) impaired list,” said Harker Heights Public Works Director Mark Hyde. “This particular watershed is in our own backyard — it’s part of our home.”
Nikki Jackson, TIAER project manager, explained the list as being an inventory of Texas water bodies that don’t currently meet the state’s water quality standards.
TCEQ has designated parts of the Nolan Creek, which runs from Killeen to Belton, as “non-wadeable” because of high E. coli counts — a bacteria commonly found in animal feces.
Jackson said community participation is fundamental to the success of this project, since decisions made about the water bodies will affect landowners, residents, areas businesses and municipalities,
“Everyone needs to get engaged, because everyone that lives within this watershed from a day-to-day basis participates in activities that have an effect on the water quality,” she said. “We also need to educate people that live within the watershed and to tell them what the quality of the water is that we are testing and how we can fix and address any of the problems it has.”
Restoring Nolan Creek to fishable, swimmable and recreational status is the ultimate goal of this Nolan Creek watershed stakeholders group, which met for the third time Thursday.
In 1996, a portion of Nolan Creek/South Nolan Creek was identified as having bacteria concentrations that exceeded the state’s water quality standards. In 2010, two assessment units were also identified as having elevated bacteria concentrations. In 2012, nutrients like nitrate, total phosphorus and orthophosphorus were listed as concerns. TIAER began monitoring the pollution in the creek in September through a $450,000 program funded by the TCEQ and the city of Killeen.
Through widespread testing and outreach programs, scientists and environmentalists hope to identify the causes of the pollution and establish best-management practices for all properties that feed into the Nolan Creek watershed.
“Water is the new oil and anytime you can get involved on improving water quality it’s imperative that people educate themselves on how they can help,” said Ken Schoen, a Killeen resident and meeting attendee.
Jackson said they are not trying to alarm people because the bacteria levels are still within a reasonable range. But that story could quickly change without community support,
“This is an exciting project, because Nolan Creek is a water body that’s a high priority for the state to address the impairment, but it’s also one that’s well within reason to become a success story for the state of Texas,” she said. “That’s what we thrive on here, is our success stories and being able to show people that these activities do work and that people can have a positive impact in making a change.”
To learn more about the project go to