According to the draft 2004 Water Quality Inventory and 303(d) List, 306 waterbodies are impaired in Texas with a total of 419 impairments. Of these, approximately half of the impairments are the result of excessive bacteria. Bacterial source tracking work completed in a number of these waterbodies (e.g., Peach Creek, Leon River) has identified a noticeable contribution from grazing cattle to the bacteria loading of these streams. Grazinglands, which represent the dominant land use in the majority of watersheds in Texas, have received little attention until now regarding the effect of grazing livestock on water quality. Thus, implementation of watershed management principles and practices on grazinglands will be critical to the success of water resource protection efforts in the state in years to come.
Education of landowners and voluntary adoption of BMPs could substantially reduce bacterial contamination of streams and waterbodies as well as reduce the likelihood of increased regulatory oversight of production practices and systems. TSSWCB, local SWCDs, and the USDA-NRCS support producers through technical assistance and cost-share programs that enable the implementation of BMPs. For such measures to be effective, however, they must be properly implemented and managed to ensure sustainability. In addition, these practices must be compatible with the overall management system and result in limited additional economic burden to agricultural producers.
Extension education programs are designed to target specific audiences and to deliver current, unbiased, science-based information and technology. The primary goal of these programs is to increase overall production unit profitability in a sustainable manner. Recently, the dominant environmental education components of these educational programs have been focused on supporting the Texas Department of Agriculture Pesticide Applicator Certification Program. Private pesticide applicator re-certification requires a licensed individual to obtain 15 hours of continuing education units (CEUs) every 5 years, with at least two hours addressing integrated pest management (IPM) and two hours addressing laws and regulations. Texas AgriLife Extension Service is one of the primary providers of training and continuing education for this program. With an increasing focus on more holistic watershed management, however, there is an opportunity for Extension personnel to use the LONE STAR HEALTHY STREAMS Program as a vehicle to expand the overall knowledge base of beef cattle producers regarding watershed management and measures for reducing bacteria contamination of streams. Through linkages with existing programs, the burden on producers and county-based Extension faculty could be minimized, while the knowledge base and potential for producers to participate in, and ultimately affect changes in watershed protection, could be realized.
Project Goals/Objectives: The goal of this project is to reduce the levels of bacterial contamination of Texas watersheds from grazing livestock (beef cattle). This goal will be accomplished by meeting the objectives of 1) developing an educational curriculum that delivers current knowledge training in production and environmental management of grazinglands and their associated watersheds as part of the Long Star Healthy Streams program, 2) evaluating and demonstrating the effectiveness of value-added BMPs in reducing bacterial contamination of streams and waterbodies from grazinglands in a pilot watershed selected by the Project Steering Committee, 3) testing the functionality of the education program in a pilot watershed selected by the Project Steering Committee and make necessary changes and program modifications based on the results of the pilot project, and 4) promoting statewide adoption of appropriate BMPs and other watershed/water quality protection activities through education, outreach, and technology transfer.
Project Location: Plum Creek, Copano Bay, Brazos River abv Navasota
Project Participant(s): TSSWCB, Texas Water Resources Institute, Texas AgriLife Extension Service, Texas Agricultural Experiment Station, area SWCDs, and USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service
Project Workplan: 06-05
Project Workplan: 10-52
Quality Assurance Project Plan: 06-05
Quality Assurance Project Plan: 10-52
Final Report: 06-05
Final Report: 10-52