Watershed Newsletter
The Wimberley Valley Watershed Association

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

Water Quality Monitoring on Cypress Creek:

Professional and citizen monitoring ensure that the water quality in Cypress Creek and the Blanco River will remain high for future generations.
by Travis Tidwell
The Cypress Creek Project is a collaborative process initiated by local stakeholders in the Cypress Creek watershed with the purpose of keeping the creek "clear, clean, and flowing." The project is a partnership involving the Environmental Protection Agency, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, a coordinating committee of local stakeholders, and is facilitated by The Meadows Center for Water and the Environment at Texas State University. 

The Cypress Creek monitoring group learns how to make important observations about the quality of water at their monitoring site, in this case, Jacobs Well. Photo courtesy of Chris Clary.
Stream Team Monitoring at Jacob's WellThrough the efforts of this partnership, a Watershed Protection Plan is being developed  in order to protect the quality of water in Cypress Creek Watershed in Wimberley and Woodcreek area.  To be proactive as a community that faces future challenges with projected population growth and changes in land use and demands on the Trinity Aquifer. One of the cornerstones of the Watershed Protection Plan is robust water quality monitoring to measure the success of the initiatives that the Cypress Creek Project has taken to preserve the high quality of water that residents in the watershed currently enjoy. Water quality monitoring on Cypress Creek falls under two programs - The Clean Rivers Program, and Texas Stream Team.   
The Cypress Creek monitoring group learns how to make important observations about the quality of water at their monitoring site, in this case, Jacobs Well. Photo courtesy of Chris Clary.
The Clean Rivers Program is a collaborative effort between the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and regional water authorities. Four sites along the creek from Jacobs Well to the confluence with the Blanco River are monitored eight times a year. Staff from the Meadows Center for Water and the Environment record measurements at each site that include temperature, pH, specific conductivity (a measurement of electrical current in the water to indicate the presence of dissolved solids), and dissolved oxygen. Water samples are also collected and taken back to the Guadalupe Blanco River Authority Laboratory where they measure nitrogen, phosphorus, and E. coli bacteria concentrations. The lab analyses of these samples are funded by the Wimberley Valley Watershed Association.
Cypress at RR 12 versus time
E. coli were highest in the city of Wimberley at station 12674 (GBRA monitoring station at RR12 in downtown Wimberley) with a geometric mean of 178 MPN, which exceeded the assessment criteria  of 126 MPN.
Analysis of historic water quality data 
Cypress Creek Project Documents

Texas Stream Team
is a network of concerned citizen scientists and partner organizations around the state that are dedicated to watershed stewardship. A major part of Texas Stream Team is its Citizen Monitoring Program where concerned citizens are trained to monitor the water quality of their local water bodies.

Travis Tidwell with The Meadows Center for Water and the Environment’s Texas Stream Team program demonstrates how to use the water quality monitoring kits to citizen monitors at Camp Jacob.
  Photo courtesy of Lindsay Sansom   
On March 2nd, Texas Stream Team staff trained a group of volunteers in water quality monitoring at Camp Jacob. The day long training included a lecture on watershed awareness and non-point source pollution, as well as information on the Cypress Creek Watershed Protection Plan. The class then learned how to measure certain water quality parameters such as temperature, pH, conductivity, and dissolved oxygen. The monitors also learned how these parameters are useful in determining the quality of water. For example, dissolved oxygen levels above 5 mg/L are considered suitable for aquatic life such as fish, and aquatic insects. Oxygen levels can drop due to an increase in nutrients that cause an algae bloom.

The Cypress Creek monitoring group learns how to make important observations about the quality of water at their monitoring site, in this case, Jacobs Well.
Photo courtesy of Chris Clary 
Although an algae bloom may cause an initial increase in oxygen due to photosynthesis, when that algae dies it is eaten by bacteria who use up all of the oxygen in the water during decomposition. This process is known as eutrophication. Oxygen also decreases with increased temperatures and decreased flows that can cause the creek to stagnate. After the classroom training, the group then walked down to Jacobs Well where the monitors learned how to record certain field observations, such as water color, clarity, and odor. These observations are useful in characterizing the normal conditions of the water and also for identifying abrupt changes that can come from a pollution event.
These newly certified monitors will begin monthly monitoring at their assigned sites shortly. The data they collect will be submitted to Texas Stream Team and will be available to the public on Texas Stream Team’s Dataviewer along with other monitoring sites across the state. The main purpose of this data is to be used in conjunction with the Clean Rivers Program monitoring to provide up to date information on the quality of water for the Cypress Creek Project. If the water quality of Cypress Creek were to decline, then the Cypress Creek Project can make the appropriate decisions in order to correct the problem and ensure that Cypress Creek will remain the picturesque hill country creek that it currently is. 
For more information on the Cypress Creek Project, visit: http://www.cypresscreekproject.org/
For more information on the Clean Rivers Project, visit: http://www.tceq.texas.gov/waterquality/clean-rivers
For more information on Texas Stream Team, visit: http://txstreamteam.meadowscenter.txstate.edu/
Special thanks to Hays County & WVWA for hosting the Texas Stream Team at Jacobs Well for monitoring training.