LAMPASAS — The effects of long-term drought, warmer temperatures and an increase in nonpoint source pollutants have put the quality of local water resources at risk, as outlined in a workshop presented Thursday by the Texas Watershed Steward program in Lampasas.
The program is designed to teach residents and stakeholders how human activity affects clean water.
“The average annual rainfall in this part of the state is approximately 30 inches,” said Texas AgriLife Extension Program Specialist Ward Ling. “Everyone wants to know how much water is available, but it’s not an easy measurement. Climate is a big driver in Texas, and our actions and what we do within those climates is another driver.”
Workshop educators said local watersheds all drain into the Brazos River Basin. This includes the Lampasas River, Stillhouse Hollow Lake and nearly a dozen other watersheds in the region.
The Lampasas River watershed drains an area of 1,502 square miles or 961,280 acres. The river rises in Hamilton County and flows 75 miles to its confluence with Salado Creek and the Leon River to form the Little River.
A dissolved oxygen problem at Sulphur Creek and increased bacteria levels in Little River were specific impairments mentioned in Thursday’s workshop. In this predominantly rural area of the Brazos River Basin, a number of nonpoint source pollutants are to blame for a lack of water quality. Nonpoint source pollution is the primary cause of water quality problems in Texas and impairs 92 percent of the water bodies affected.
Nonpoint source pollution is caused by fecal bacteria from human and animal waste, toxic or hazardous substances, like oil and insecticides, that seep into our water supplies, nutrients like fertilizers and sediments that are deposited into the water from construction sites or erosion.
“It’s often difficult to tell the difference between clean and contaminated water. The importance of regular, routine sampling and monitoring cannot be underestimated,” Ling said. “The population dynamic of Texas is expected to double in the next 50 years, so stop and think about what our water quantities and quality will look like if that happens.”
Texas AgriLife research associate Lisa Prcin said efforts outlined in the stewardship program plans include exercising best management practices to help reduce pollution in the watersheds and potentially lower the bacteria levels in our local water supply.
“I think it’s important for folks to know their role in this, and that their actions affect the everyday quality of our water,” Prcin said. “This is a good, overall program for any audience, and I think this is a good starting point for knowledge.”