Little River Water Quality


The Leon and Lampasas Rivers below Belton Lake and Stillhouse Hollow Lake, respectively, transect the urban areas of Temple and Belton, Texas, flowing downstream where they merge together to form the Little River. The Little River flows southeast and ultimately reaches the Brazos River. Major tributaries of the Little River are the San Gabriel River and Big Elm Creek. Big Elm Creek is impaired for not meeting the recreational standard for E. coli of 126 CFU/100 ml. Additionally, concerns in these water bodies include elevated levels of chlorophyll-a, nitrate, depressed dissolved oxygen, orthophosphorus, and total phosphorus, which could potentially hinder aquatic life.

This project focuses on addressing the E. coli impairment within the Big Elm Creek watershed by supplementing an existing dataset with bacteria and flow data for later decision making by stakeholders. The project team will create, coordinate and facilitate a local stakeholder group that will determine the goals, objectives and indicators for addressing the water quality impairments and concerns within the watersheds. Education programs will be delivered to the stakeholder group to improve their understanding of  contributions to bacteria impairments, the parameters of concern in the project area and ways that they can be mitigated. Stakeholders will be engaged in developing the watershed characterization so that management measures are cost-effective, holistic and supported at the local level. To assist in helping stakeholders make decisions within their watershed, existing data and information for water quality parameters, flow, wildlife and livestock, and number of septic systems will be collected and analyzed to better understand potential causes and sources of pollution. For stations where additional monitoring data are needed, additional surface water quality and flow data will be collected to improve the understanding of bacteria loading across the observed flow regime.

Funding Source

Funding provided by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality as part of a Clean Water Act Section 319(h) Grant.

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