Watershed Protection Plans
Waters contaminated with elevated levels of bacteria can be linked to increased risk for illnesses amongst recreational users of the water body. Local communities can take steps to address water-related concerns on their own. One such community-driven approach is the Watershed Protection Plan (WPP). WPPs are broad, stakeholder driven, voluntary, and rely on local knowledge to address both impairments and other water quality concerns deemed important, like stream bank erosion, nutrient loadings, etc.
WPP’s are developed to address water quality issues within an impaired or threatened watershed. The plan identifies water quality issues and outlines best management practices (BMP’s) to prevent or manage nonpoint source pollution. With support from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, the Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board and the U.S. Environmental Protections Agency, WPP’s utilize local stakeholder groups and must meet the nine required key elements outlined for watershed-based plans as provided in the EPA’s 2014 guidelines. The three major steps in creating a successful WPP include, watershed characterization through monitoring and data collection, watershed characterization through modeling, and watershed protection plan development.
After completion of the planning projects, stakeholders will be eligible to apply for funds to implement BMPs identified in the WPP. These BMPs are recommendations made by local stakeholder groups to mitigate water quality concerns on a case-by-case basis. Recommendations will be based on targeted water quality sampling, analysis, and modeling for a number of water quality constituents including those related to bacteria (E. coli), nutrients (nitrogen and phosphorus), algal growth, and sediments.
TRA, with the support from municipalities and local stakeholders, coordinates watershed protection planning and funding for implementation projects. To date, Village Creek-Lake Arlington WPP has been accepted by the EPA and local planning partners now have wider access to state and federal assistance programs that will encourage sustainable development as the watershed continues to urbanize. Currently, Joe Pool Lake WPP development is underway.