Double Bayou Watershed Partnership Holds Sixth General Meeting of Stakeholders
The Double Bayou Watershed Partnership will hold its sixth stakeholder meeting for the general public on Tuesday, June 17, 2014 from 5:30 pm to 7:30 pm. The meeting will be at the Double Bayou Community Building, located at 2211 Eagle Ferry Road, in Double Bayou, Texas. Registration will begin at 5:00 pm, and dinner, sponsored by Samson Energy, will also be available at that time.
Anyone who lives, works, or plays within the watershed is encouraged to attend.
The meeting's agenda will cover workgroup recommendations about where bacteria pollution may affect the watershed. Also featured will be a guest speaker, Stephen Scalise, from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), on programs to assist local governments and small businesses with water quality compliance.
Three workgroup meetings took place in early June: an agricultural workgroup, a recreation workgroup, and a wastewater workgroup. Workgroups allow stakeholders to share knowledge and experience on specific watershed topics and to discuss strategies on how to reduce the impact of potential sources on stream water quality. Stakeholders at the June 17 meeting will participate in a discussion on workgroup recommendations regarding how potential bacteria sources may be distributed within the watershed.
According to the website of the Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board, “one hundred ninety-seven (197) waterbodies [in Texas] are impaired because they do not meet surface water quality standards for bacteria established to protect contact recreation use.” With voluntary stakeholder involvement in the Double Bayou Watershed Protection Plan, it will be possible to protect and improve Double Bayou's water quality.
One of the issues the Double Bayou Watershed Protection Plan aims to address is that the bacteria levels present in the bayou make it unsafe for human contact in recreational uses when water may be ingested. In order to improve Double Bayou's water quality, stakeholders have helped to identify potential bacteria sources affecting Double Bayou and some measures to manage the identified potential sources. Some of the potential bacteria sources include feral hogs, livestock, wildlife, inadequately treated sewage, and failing septic systems.
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Certain bacteria are indicators of fecal contamination. Two of these are Escherichia coli, or E. coli, and Enterococcus, depending on whether freshwater or tidal water is being tested in a water quality assessment. Mammals and other warm-blooded animals carry these bacteria in their intestinal systems, which then make their way into the water through fecal material. When assessing water quality, high levels of these bacteria can be an indicator of fecal contamination in the body of water being assessed, which then may mean that other, more serious, disease-causing bacteria could be present.
Project manager Stephanie Glenn notes, “If bacteria levels in Double Bayou are too high, there is a potential for illness, and this can impact not only public health, but also the local economy. The Watershed Protection Planning process has brought the stakeholders together to talk about voluntary measures to mitigate elevated bacteria levels in Double Bayou, and so far I think the conversations have been really productive, with some innovative ideas generated."
Stephen Scalise, a Compliance Assistance Specialist from TCEQ, will give a presentation on how local governments and small businesses can seek assistance and find funding through TCEQ resources. This TCEQ program is non-regulatory and offers free and confidential advice in helping to meet environmental rules, all with a goal to help manage wastewater and implement plans to improve water quality in a watershed. Among TCEQ’s mission benchmarks are raising the percentage of Texas waters that meet or exceed water quality standards, and implementing effective and efficient technologies that help meet that and other goals.
The June 17th meeting will be the sixth general meeting of the Double Bayou Watershed Partnership, working with stakeholders in the Double Bayou Watershed to develop a watershed protection plan that will improve and protect water quality within the watershed. Since May 2013, stakeholders have been meeting to help develop this plan. The watershed protection planning process is a voluntary, stakeholder-driven process designed to generate information, ideas, and solutions from within the watershed.
Visit the Double Bayou Watershed Partnership website at www.doublebayou.org for more information and to find meeting notes from previous meetings, as well as other documents that give more background on the project. For questions or a more detailed overview of the first meetings, contact Linda Shead at 713-703-1123 or firstname.lastname@example.org.