Restoring Nolan Creek to fishable, swimmable status is the goal of a new stakeholders group formed for the Nolan Creek Watershed, which met for the first time Wednesday in Killeen.

A study performed between 2003 and 2010 identified excessive amounts of E. coli — a bacteria commonly found in animal feces — in sections of north and south Nolan Creek through Killeen, Harker Heights and Nolanville.

In September, the Texas Institute for Applied Environmental Research began monitoring the pollution in the creek through a $450,000 program funded by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality 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.

“Hopefully, we will see some spikes in certain areas and see if there are any areas where we need to focus our monitoring,” said Anne McFarland, the environmental scientist in charge of the testing.

On Wednesday, TCEQ and TIAER scientists and organizers met with watershed stakeholders to identify additional avenues for mitigating the flow of pollutants into the creek.

“We can collect all this data, but if we don’t have a clear understanding of what is happening in the neighborhoods and communities along the creek, then all we are doing is providing numbers,” said Nikki Jackson, TIAER project director.

In Killeen alone, more than 1,400 homes back up to Nolan Creek.

“One of the problems we have is four-wheelers tearing up the creek near our house,” said David Doell, who lives along South Nolan Creek in Killeen. “It might be against the law, but nobody will enforce it.”

When a vehicle drives through a stream, automotive fluids leak into the water and the vehicle’s tires tear up vegetation that could play a role in cleaning the water, said Kristina Ramirez, Killeen’s director of environmental services.

In 2004, TCEQ established a similar program that successfully cleaned a separate section of south Nolan Creek, west of the currently impaired waterways.

The project brought the creek back into compliance with the state’s fishable, swimmable standards.

Ramirez said the 2004 project was successful through programs such as septic tank elimination, education outreach and the installation of pet waste stations.

“What we want to do is have a message with one set of goals for our watershed,” Ramirez said.

Contact ​Brandon Janes at or (254) 501-7552

(3) comments

Randy Johnson

Thats why its always been called Sh@# Creek. Kristina thinks that it runs into Belton Lake. She needs to look at a map instead of Narking out her fellow employees to her Boss!!!


What I find alarming is that Belton TX has paid thousands to a Colorado company to come down to Belton, and dig the bottom of the river, alter the natural banks, install artificial racks in the middle of the river by boring through the natural bedrock to fasten fake boulders to just so to create artificial rapids for inner-tubing. Even with the latest news as years previous of Nolan having ecoli and sewage - the city idiots still encourage families to put their children in the river. Bacteria enters into an open cut, sore, etc. Belton also want to raise the level of the water. Aren't we going to be in for a big surprise on the cost of how they are going to do it. Millions have gone into inner-tubing project yet not one official has quoted the return on the investment. Nolan Creek has always had some sort of spillage or bacteria issue for over 45 years. When I was a kid, I caught grossly deformed fish out of it.


Isn't Nolan Creek where the local cities and towns like Killeen, HH, Nolanville dump their treated sewage as well as where storm drain run to?

It's odd the story talks about the creek being polluted without mentioning this.

That the pollution is due to septic tanks or people driving in the creek is unlikely.

Considering how short the creek is from start to finish, practically all its flow is waste water of some sort, not only treated sewage, but lawn watering run off Etc. all add their little bit to the flow.

Natural precipitation probably accounts for very little of the creek's flow except during times of heavy rain.

To be clear "waste water" doesn't mean raw sewage which is truly filthy. Rather the term just refers to water that has been used and not recycled in some way that reaches the creek to flow out out to the Leon River. How clean or polluted such water is can vary dramatically, but it's always cleaner than raw sewage.

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