The Leon River watershed encompasses approximately 2600 square miles in Bell,
Hamilton, Coryell, Comanche, and Eastland Counties. In 1998, the entire Leon River
below Lake Proctor was listed as "impaired" on the State of Texas Clean Water Act Section
303(d) List for having bacteria concentrations that exceeded the state's water quality standards.
In 2002, as a result of more focused water quality monitoring, that listing was limited to the
portions of the Leon River north of Gustine and west of US Hwy 281.
As required by the Federal Clean Water Act, the Texas Commission on Environemtnal
Quality (TCEQ) initiated a Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) assessment of the Leon
River in 2002 in an effort to identify the sources of bacteria and to develop management
strategies to reduce bacteria loading to the Leon River. The status of the TMDL project
can be found here.
In 2006, as a result of the TMDL Project local stakeholders
expressed an interest in taking an active role in developing management strategies
to reduce bacteria loadings to the Leon River by developing a Watershed Protection
Plan (WPP). The Brazos River Authority (BRA) was asked to facilitate this planning
effort. In late 2006 the BRA received approximately $440,000 from the Texas State Soil
and Water Conservation Board (through an Environmental Protection Agency grant) to conduct
the 3 year planning project. The BRA dedicated approximately $290,000 of staff and financial
resources to enable to the project. The BRA enlisted the assistance of Parsons Water
Infrastructure, Inc. (Parsons) to help day-to-day project activities.
While the primary focus of the WPP will be on the impaired reaches
discussed above, water quality data suggests that there may be some concerns with bacteria
and nutrient concentrations throughout the watershed. The WPP will address these issues as
well as others that may be raised by local stakeholders.
Bacteria concentrations in the Leon River between Lake Proctor and US Hwy 281 near Hamilton,
Indian Creek, Walnut Creek, Resley Creek and South Leon River all have E.coli concentrations
that exceed state water quality standards for contact recreation. E.coli is a bacteria normally
found in the intestines of humans and other warm-blooded animals. Studies conducted by the EPA suggest
that E.coli is a good indicator of fecal contamination of water and the presence of harmful pathogen which
can cause intestinal illness or gastroenteritis. Frequent sources of E.coli can include sewerage overflows,
malfunctioning septic systems, direct deposition by wildlife or livestock, and runoff from rainfall events.
The Project Goals are to:
- Use a locally-driven, stakeholder process to develop management strategies that are acceptable to local stakeholders and improve water quality in the Leon River;
- Enhance data collection efforts to support and facilitate implementation activities;
- Develop a Watershed Protection plan that provides the TSSWCB and the TCEQ with recommendations on implementation strategies that can be incorporated into the TMDL process;
- Provide an overall water quality assessment of the Leon River Watershed above Lake Belton
The Brazos River Authority and Parsons have established a number of small, representative focus groups in an effort to facilitate detailed and comprehensive discussions
regarding bacteria and other water quality concerns. The deliberations and recommendations of each focus group will be presented at larger working group meetings and/or
town hall meetings. The goal is to build a consensus among residents, landowners, municipalities, and industry for the most appropriate approach to managing water quality
in the Leon River Watershed.
If you are interested in joining a focus group or becoming more involved in the Leon River Watershed Protection Planning Project please contact Jenna Barret
with the Brazos River Authority at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 761-3149.