Watershed Protection Planning

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Watershed Protection Planning for the Dry Comal Creek & Comal River

 

The City of New Braunfels and its project partners are currently moving forward with the development of a Watershed Protection Plan (WPP) to address bacteria concerns in the Dry Comal Creek and Comal River watersheds. Phase One of the Dry Comal Creek/ Comal River WPP kicked off in August 2015 and included efforts to characterize the watershed, assemble a working stakeholder group and define bacteria load reductions needed to meet applicable water quality standards for bacteria. Phase Two involves continued stakeholder involvement, identification of bacteria management measures, and development of a watershed protection plan.  Partners on the Dry Comal Creek/ Comal River WPP include the City of New Braunfels, ARCADIS, Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) , Edwards Aquifer Authority and Guadalupe Blanco River Authority (GBRA).

Historical data collected by GBRA as part of ongoing Clean Rivers Program sampling identified Dry Comal Creek (Segment 1811A) as impaired for E.coli bacteria. Segment 1811A was initially included on the 303(d) list in 2010. In 2011, the City of New Braunfels proactively initiated a bacteria monitoring program on Dry Comal Creek to supplement data collected as part of the Clean Rivers Program monitoring conducted by GBRA. The City of New Braunfels also initiated a supplemental bacteria monitoring program on the Comal River to address increasing bacteria levels in the Comal River watershed. A preliminary bacteria source tracking (BST) analysis was conducted in 2013 to help identify potential bacteria sources on the Dry Comal Creek and the Comal River. The preliminary BST analysis indicated significant contributions from wildlife. In 2014, GBRA added an additional monitoring location on the Comal River in Landa Park, upstream of the confluence with Dry Comal Creek, to help assess the impact of elevated Dry Comal Creek bacteria concentrations on the Comal River. The project team is utilizing all existing water quality data from the Dry Comal Creek and Comal River to support water quality modeling efforts and to help identify bacteria loading trends.  Water quality data collected by the GBRA on the Dry Comal Creek and the Comal River as part of the Clean Rivers Program can be found on the GBRA website found at this link: GBRA Clean Rivers Program Water Quality Monitoring Locations and Data in Comal County.


    

            ***Dry Comal Creek/ Comal River WPP project summary:

WPP Project Infographic

***

                             A one-page infographic has been developed to summarize the Dry Comal Creek/ Comal River WPP and emphasize
                             the primary issues, goals and management measures. Follow the link above to open the WPP project infographic.

  

 
Dry Comal Creek/ Comal River Stakeholder and Work Groups

Local public involvement is imperative for the successful development and implementation of a watershed protection plan. Therefore, the Dry Comal Creek/ Comal River WPP project team has assembled a stakeholder group to gather pertinent information regarding the watershed, assist with public outreach, and guide the overall planning process. The existing stakeholder group includes riparian landowners, agricultural interests, county/ city officials, citizen groups, environmental groups, educators, local wildlife agencies, developers, and business/ industry representatives.
 
The presentations from the WPP stakeholder meetings can be view via the links below:

-November 9th, 2015 WPP Stakeholder meeting presentation;
-February 17th, 2016 WPP Stakeholder meeting presentation;
-May 5th, 2016 WPP Stakeholder meeting presentation;
-October 24th, 2016 WPP Stakeholder meeting presentation.
-March 7th, 2017 WPP Stakeholder meeting presentation.
-November 9th, 2017 WPP Stakeholder meeting presentation

WPP Stakeholder Work Groups were formed in order to identify and develop watershed-specific recommendations for managing bacteria inputs to the Dry Comal Creek and Comal River. The WPP Work Groups include:

        1) Urban Stormwater and Infrastructure
        2) Wildlife Management
        3) Agriculture/ Livestock
        4) Outreach and Education
 
The WPP Work Groups met several times between December 2016 and April 2017 to discuss strategies for reducing bacteria loading and informing the community of the WPP effort. The initial presentation given to the work groups can be accessed here. The work groups developed a 
draft listing of the bacteria management measures that can be found here. A draft listing of the Education and Outreach activities proposed by the Education and Outreach workgroup can be found here. These recommendations were presented to the WPP Stakeholder group at the meeting on March 7th, 2017.
 

Draft Watershed Protection Plan


The project team produced a draft WPP that was  presented to the stakeholders at the meeting on June 22nd, 2017. The draft WPP was submitted to TCEQ for review on August 23, 2017. The working draft of the Dry Comal Creek and Comal River Watershed Protection Plan can be accessed by following the link below:

                                       Draft Dry Comal Creek and Comal River Watershed Protection Plan (June 2017) 
  
The project team received comments back from TCEQ on October 18, 2017. The comments and the project team's responses can be accessed by following the link below:


Next steps include final approval from TCEQ and then submission to EPA.

WPP Implementation


In July 2017, the City of New Braunfels submitted a Fiscal Year 2018 Clean Water Act 319(h) grant application to the TCEQ. The intent of the grant application is to seek funding to implement bacteria management and education/ outreach initiatives identified in the Dry Comal Creek/ Comal River WPP.        
 


Events


  • Dos Rios Watershed Clean-Up: the City of New Braunfels, with the help of local partners, is hosted the 1st Annual Dos Rios Watershed Clean-Up on Saturday, September 16th from 9am to 12pm. The event was a great success! Approximately 150 volunteers collected litter at 10 locations along rivers and creeks in New Braunfels. 1,700 lbs of trash, 12 tires, and 10 lbs of recyclables were collected and disposed of. 


Overview of the Watersheds

 

Dry Comal Creek

The Dry Comal Creek watershed is a large watershed located in Comal County. The headwaters of the Dry Comal Creek are located south of Canyon Reservoir. The creek is approximately 35 miles long with a catchment area of approximately 111 square miles. The Dry Comal Creek contributes flow to the Comal River at its confluence within the City of New Braunfels. 


Dry Comal at Seguin St (2).JPG

Dry Comal Creek at Seguin Street, New Braunfels, TX. The stream segment
depicted is the location where the Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority collects
routine water quality samples for the Clean Rivers Program.

 

Comal River


The Comal River begins in Landa Park in the heart of New Braunfels, TX as water from the Comal Springs discharges from the Edwards Aquifer along the Balcones Fault Zone. Average springflow from the Comal springs is more than 300 cubic feet per second! The Comal River is the shortest navigable river in Texas at 2 1/2 miles long. The river offers excellent water recreation opportunities and is also home to several endangered species.

Comal Rvr at Hinman Isld (2).JPG
Comal River at Hinman Island Park, New Braunfels, TX. The stream segment
depicted is the location where the Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority collects
routine water quality samples for the Clean Rivers Program.
   
The Dry Comal Creek/ Comal River WPP is one of the many watershed protection planning efforts occurring within the State of Texas. A listing of WPPs in Texas can be found via the following link: TCEQ Watershed Protection Planning Projects
   
     
 Tips for Reducing Bacteria Loading:
   
   
  1. Avoid feeding wildlife including deer, ducks, and geese. Feeding wildlife can lead to concentrated populations of animals which may result in increased bacteria content in our local waterways. Concentrated populations of wildlife can also result in the proliferation of harmful diseases among the animals. Feeding of wildlife is unhealthy for the wildlife themselves as decreases their ability to locate food on their own. Please view the information from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department regarding the negative impacts of feeding ducks: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oCPAAmlNXxI
  2. Pick-up after your pet! Pet waste can be a significant source of bacteria in our rivers and creeks.
  3. Perform routine maintenance of your septic system! It is recommended that your septic system be inspected regularly and pumped every 3-5 years. Additional information regarding septic system maintenance can be found by following this link (TCEQ: Basics for Septic Systems)

If you have any questions regarding the Dry Comal Creek/ Comal River Watershed Protection Plan, please contact the City of New Braunfels Watershed Management Division at (830) 221.4020