Buck Creek Watershed Protection Plan Development

TWRI wins Texas Environmental Excellence Award for Buck Creek project

Buck -Creek -TEEA-2013Buck Creek was added in 2000 to a federal list of impaired water bodies for its E. Coli bacterial contamination. Beginning in 2004, researchers from TWRI launched a campaign in collaboration with other governmental resources and local landowners to identify and implement projects that would decrease bacterial contamination and improve water quality in the watershed. In 2010, the projects received validation when testing of Buck Creek demonstrated close to 90 percent reduction in bacterial levels, which allowed the TCEQ to remove the 28-mile Texas stretch of Buck Creek from impaired status.
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Project Overview

The Red River Basin includes 29 classified segments and 11 major reservoirs covering 145,169 acres. Buck Creek, also known as Spiller Creek, is a small waterbody situated within the Red River Basin and is located within a subwatershed to the Lower Prairie Dog Town Fork of the Red River (Segment 207). This stream segment is located within Ecoregion 27, Central Great Plains. Small streams within this region are typically characterized by widely varying flows and high levels of dissolved salts, generally originating from saltwater seeps and springs. Buck Creek (segment 207A) is situated within a predominantly rural and agricultural landscape in the panhandle region of Texas.

Land use in the watershed is predominantly row crops and grasslands. Temperatures in the region range from 25ºF-93ºF and rainfall averages approximately 21 inches. During periods of rainfall, bacteria (E. coli, specifically) originating from aquatic birds and mammals, livestock, inadequately treated sewage, and/or failing septic systems may be washed into the streams and have the potential to impede recreational use of the waterbody. Bacterial indicators, such as E. coli, may remain in the streams in levels exceeding established criteria and can be measured well after a rain event has occurred. These organisms are normally found in wastes of warm-blooded animals and are generally not harmful to human health, but may indicate the presence of pathogens that can cause disease.

The State of Texas requires that water quality in Buck Creek be suitable for fishing, swimming, wading, and a healthy aquatic ecosystem. However, data obtained from water quality monitoring indicates that bacteria levels are sometimes elevated in the creek. Although these data points provide an indicator of a potential water quality problem, the data do not provide conclusive evidence of persistent impairment; rather, it suggests a temporal recurring phenomenon.

View the project work plan or download the fact sheet for more information.

Environmental Protection Agency Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board

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