727-2 A Project to Reduce Bacteria in Texas Waterways: Lone Star Healthy Streams.

Poster Number 349

See more from this Division: C06 Forage and Grazinglands
See more from this Session: Forage Ecology and Environmental Science (Posters)

Wednesday, 8 October 2008
George R. Brown Convention Center, Exhibit Hall E

Larry Redmon, 349C Heep Center, Texas AgriLife Ext., College Station, TX, Kevin Wagner, Texas Water Resources Inst., College Station, TX and C. Allan Jones, Texas Water Resources Institute, College Station, TX
According to the DRAFT 2006 Water Quality Inventory and 303(d) List, 306 water bodies are impaired in Texas with a total of 419 impairments.  Of these, approximately half of the impairments are due to excessive bacteria.  Bacterial source tracking in a number of water bodies has identified a contribution from cattle to bacteria loading of these streams. Grazing lands, which represent the dominant land use in the majority of watersheds in Texas, have received little attention until recently regarding the effect of grazing livestock on water quality.  Thus, implementation of watershed management practices on grazing lands are critical to the success of water resource protection efforts in the state.  Landowner education and voluntary adoption of best management practices (BMPs) could substantially reduce bacterial contamination of streams and water bodies and reduce the likelihood of increased regulatory oversight.  The Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board (TSSWCB), local Soil and Water Conservation Districts (SWCDs) and the USDA-NRCS support producers through technical assistance and cost-share programs enabling implementation of BMPs.  For such measures to be effective, however, they must be properly implemented and managed to ensure sustainability.  In addition, these practices must be compatible with the overall management system and not result in additional economic burden to agricultural producers.  Therefore, a project designed to validate BMPs that may help reduce the level of bacteria contamination of Texas waterways was initiated.  This project is called of LONE STAR HEALTHY STREAMS.

The goal of LONE STAR HEALTHY STREAMS is to reduce levels of bacteria in Texas watersheds from grazing beef cattle.  This goal will be accomplished by:

         Developing an educational curriculum delivering current knowledge in production and environmental management of grazing lands and their associated watersheds,

         Evaluating and demonstrating effectiveness of value-added BMPs in reducing bacteria of streams in a pilot watershed,

         Testing the functionality of the education program and making necessary changes and program modifications based on the results of the pilot project,

         Promoting Statewide adoption of appropriate BMPs and other watershed/water quality protection activities through education, outreach and technology transfer.

AgriLife Extension education programs are designed to target specific audiences and to deliver current, unbiased, science-based information and technology.  With an increasing focus on more holistic watershed management, however, there is an opportunity for AgriLife Extension personnel to use the LONE STAR HEALTHY STREAMS Program as a vehicle to expand the overall knowledge base of beef cattle producers regarding watershed management and BMPs for reducing bacteria contamination of streams.  Through linkages with existing programs, the burden on producers and County Extension faculty could be minimized, while the knowledge base and potential for producers to participate in, and ultimately affect changes in watershed protection, could be realized.

This project is funded with 319 funds provided by the TSSWCB and will be a partnership among the primary federal and state agencies that interface with beef cattle producers relative to environmental management.

See more from this Division: C06 Forage and Grazinglands
See more from this Session: Forage Ecology and Environmental Science (Posters)