Valuable soil from thousands of acres is washed into tributaries and lakes every year. Gullies and bare rock now exist where once rich topsoil and healthy plants occurred. As farmers and ranchers lose topsoil to erosion, land productivity decreases. Waterways also suffer from sedimentation and nonpoint source (NPS) pollution. This sediment can build up to create flood management problems, threaten aquatic habitats, impair water quality, and reduce groundwater recharge.
In 2004, the Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA) was awarded a Clean Water Act §319(h) Nonpoint Source Grant from the Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board (TSSWCB) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The funding supports LCRA's Creekside Conservation Program, a 15-year-old effort to help farmers and ranchers in Central Texas reduce soil erosion and keep topsoil from washing into the waterways of the lower Colorado River basin.
The project's overall objective is to work cooperatively with private landowners to reduce soil erosion and increase water infiltration, thereby reducing sediment loading in the Highland Lakes and improving water quality by reducing NPS pollution. The project provides technical and financial assistance to participating landowners to implement best management practices (BMPs) designed to improve vegetative cover to reduce erosion and sedimentation. Examples of these include, but are not limited, to brush management, prescribed grazing, alternative water source development, critical area planting, vegetative buffers and slope stabilization.
A minimum of 30 conservation plans were proposed to be developed under this project. Thus far, a total of 71 applications have been submitted, 32 of which have received assistance in implementing land conservation plans on more than 25,000 acres throughout the grant region. Additional applications will be selected for assistance, as funding is available.
This project also includes an outreach component to demonstrate the effectiveness of erosion control BMPs. Field days, presentations and newspaper articles are used to highlight project successes and encourage additional landowners to implement these BMPs. Seven field days have been conducted with a cumulative audience of over 800 people.
The final objective of the project is to utilize the Revised Universal Soil Loss Equation or similar tool to estimate sediment load reductions resulting from implementation of these BMPs. This task is currently in progress. The project goal is to reduce sedimentation by approximately 55,700 tons.
Project Goals/Objectives: Protect the Central Texas Highland Lakes by providing technical and financial assistance to landowners through the Lower Colorado River Authority's Creekside Conservation Program. Assess nonpoint source pollution reductions resulting from the Creekside Conservation Program. Educate agricultural producers on abatement of nonpoint source pollution through implementation of conservation practices.
Project Location: Lake Austin, Segment 1403; Lake Travis, Segment 1404; Marble Falls Lake, Segment 1405; Lake Lyndon B. Johnson, Segment 1406; Inks Lake, Segment 1407; Lake Buchanan, Segment 1408; Pedernales River, Segment 1414; Llano River, Segment 1415.
Project Costs: Federal ($507,300); Non-Federal Match ($569,967); Total Project ($1,077,267).
Project Participant(s): TSSWCB, Lower Colorado River Authority, Caldwell-Travis SWCD, Hill Country SWCD, Llano County SWCD, Pedernales SWCD, San Saba SWCD, and USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service
Project Workplan: 04-05
Final Report: 04-05