Texas AgriLife Research and the Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board are partnering with local citizens and landowners within the Lampasas River watershed to protect and improve water quality through the development and implementation of a watershed protection plan. The Lampasas River rises in Hamilton and Mills counties and flows through Lampasas, Burnet and Bell counties; the river is dammed to form Stillhouse Hollow Lake near Belton. The Lampasas River also drains small portions of Coryell and Williamson counties. The Lampasas River is not only a source of drinking water, but is widely used for fishing and recreation.

The State of Texas has identified the Lampasas River as impaired due to elevated levels of E. coli bacteria. North Fork Rocky Creek, a tributary of the Lampasas River, is also impaired for depressed dissolved oxygen. As a result of these impairments and concerns expressed by local stakeholders, the Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board has provided grant funding to AgriLife Research to facilitate the development of a watershed protection plan for the Lampasas River watershed.

"Taking appropriate steps to protect our local water resources here in the Lampasas River watershed is something we all should be concerned with,” said Jason Byrd, AgriLife Extension agent for Lampasas County. “The sources of pollution are watershed wide. Input from those living in all areas of the watershed is critical if we are to develop a thorough, pro-active plan to address these issues and take strides to improve the water quality here in Central Texas."

Developed and implemented through cooperative partnerships of citizens and landowners, local governmental entities, and non-governmental organizations, watershed protection plans are holistic frameworks for addressing nonpoint source pollution and implementing voluntary best management practices that assure the long-term health of a watershed. Local stakeholders, which include anyone that works, lives, or recreates in the watershed, will help identify the potential sources of pollution and then select and promote management and restoration practices to improve the water quality. The ultimate goal of this effort is to develop and implement a plan that protects local water resources now and into the future.

“Using watershed protection plans to restore impaired waters is a positive way of addressing water quality since those who own land, live in the watershed or use the river are actively involved in selecting the management strategies that will be implemented to solve the problems.” said Hamilton County Commissioner Dickie Clary.

“All people that use the river, whether they’re a landowner, sportsman, or consumer, have a vested interest in the health of the Lampasas River,” said Judy Parker, Clearwater Underground Water Conservation District Board Member. “We are the ones who see the assets and the problems up close on a daily basis. As a group we can offer input such as areas of concern or possible solutions based on what we see.”

To kick-off the Lampasas River watershed planning process, two public meetings will be conducted to introduce the program and encourage involvement from local landowners and citizens. All interested individuals are encouraged to attend one of the meetings to learn how to become involved in solving these water quality issues. Refreshments will be served at 6:00 p.m. and meetings will start at 6:30 p.m. at the following locations:

Thursday, May 7, 2009

City of Killeen Solid Wastes Building

2003 Little Nolan Road

Killeen, TX 76542

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

First Texas Bank

501 East 3rd Street

Lampasas, TX 76550

If you have any questions regarding the program, please contact Lisa Prcin with AgriLife Research at 254.774.6030 or lprcin@brc.tamus.edu.

For further information please visit Lampass River Watershed Assessment & Protection Plan.

The Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board is the lead agency for planning, implementing, and managing programs and practices for preventing and abating agricultural and silvicultural nonpoint sources of water pollution. The Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board also coordinates the programs of the state's 216 soil and water conservation districts and administers the state brush control program. For more information about Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board programs in the Lampasas River watershed, please contact Pamela Casebolt at 254-773-2250 ext. 247 or pcasebolt@tsswcb.state.tx.us.