Watershed Newsletter
The Wimberley Valley Watershed Association

Protecting Jacob's Well and the Springs of the Wimberley Valley

Water Quality Monitoring on Cypress Creek

by Neal Denton
Water Quality Monitor
Wimberley Valley Watershed Association

Have you ever wondered about the quality of Cypress Creek? Is it safe for swimming? Is it a healthy environment for fish and other aquatic organisms? The Wimberley Valley Watershed Association (WVWA), in partnership with the Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), attempts to answer these questions by analyzing the water quality every month. The information is compared to “water quality criteria” developed by the TCEQ to protect the designated uses of the creek: primary contact recreation, exceptional aquatic life use, public water supply, and aquifer protection. According to the most recent assessment of water quality in Texas published in 2010, Cypress Creek has met all of these designated uses. This means it is safe for swimming; it is a very healthy environment for aquatic life; it is suitable for public water supply; and it does not degrade the quality of Edwards Aquifer groundwater.

The quality of surface water bodies is being monitored statewide under the Texas Clean Rivers Program, a program of the TCEQ. Established in 1991, the Texas Clean Rivers Program is a state fee-funded, non-regulatory program that was created to provide a framework and forum for managing water quality issues in a more holistic manner. Twelve river authorities, a council of governments, a municipal water district, and the International Boundary and Water Commission carry out water quality monitoring in their respective areas and submit the quality-assured data to the TCEQ for biennial assessments required by the U.S. Clean Water Act.

               The quality of Cypress Creek is also being monitored by volunteers at two sites: one at Jacob’s Well and one at Old Kyle Road. These volunteers are participating in the Texas Stream Team program, a network of trained volunteers and supportive partners working together to gather information about the natural resources of Texas and to ensure the information is available to all Texans. Also established in 1991, Texas Stream Team is administered through a cooperative partnership between the River Systems Institute at Texas State University, the TCEQ, and the EPA. Anyone who would be physically capable of accessing the water body can participate in the program. The data, while not used in the State’s assessment, assists with identifying areas of concern. The 191,000 stream miles in Texas can pose quite the challenge for those responsible with collecting water quality information regularly. Texas Stream Team data can help determine what locations should be targeted for professional monitoring.

If you would like to learn more about the quality of Cypress Creek, you can find a report published in March of this year on the WVWA website at http://www.wimberleywatershed.org/resources. Also, the WVWA plans to provide up-to-date data once a month on the website soon.

The raw data can be accessed at http://www.texaswaterdata.org. Texas Stream Team data is available via an online data viewer at https://aqua.rivers.txstate.edu/, and data reports are available at http://txstreamteam.rivers.txstate.edu/data/Data-Reports.html.

Please see the 2010 Upper Blanco River Watershed Data Report for Cypress Creek data. You can also participate in efforts to protect and preserve the quality of the Cypress Creek Watershed by attending the stakeholder meetings of the Cypress Creek Project. Visit http://www.cypresscreekproject.org/ for more information.