LAMPASAS — The local Texas AgriLife Extension service recently hosted two workshops aimed at improving water quality and reducing the levels of bacteria that find its way into the Lampasas River watershed.

The first meeting Sept. 17 focused on ways to keep septic systems functioning properly and to perform routine maintenance. On Sept. 18, watershed stakeholders, landowners and interested residents attended a workshop to learn how free-range livestock can pollute water sources and to discuss ways to offer alternative water sources.

“The programs were different, but both were tied together in showing how the Lampasas River Watershed Protection Plan addresses bacteria sources within the watershed,” said Lisa Prcin, a Texas A&M AgriLife research associate.

Ryan Gerlich, an AgriLife Extension Office program specialist, spoke to a large group Sept. 17 about proper septic system operations. He believes interest in proper septic tank maintenance is rising.

“It’s important to provide an overview of how these systems operate and to discuss required maintenance,” Gerlich said. “A lot of people are interested in how to live with their system, and they acknowledge the fact their actions have an impact on the way these systems function.”

From chemicals and food scraps to the volume of water that enters a septic system, humans play a large role in the way septic systems operate, Gerlich said.

“As people retire and move out of the suburbs, these systems are here to stay. There is a steady increase in participation with the bacteria impairments in our watershed, and the development of these watershed protection plans help us promote and deliver these programs.”

Prcin said she believes providing information is important to improving water quality. “On Wednesday, we talked about changing behaviors and offered advice such as how to provide alternative water sources for livestock to keep them from congregating around creeks and river beds, which can pollute our water sources,” she said.

Easy changes, such as putting in a well in a pasture, away from creeks and streams, can provide water for cattle and horses and fecal contamination from seeping into the water supply, Prcin said. “Every change will make a difference down the road, even if it seems only minor.”

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