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Recreational Use Attainability Analysis for San Miguel Creek

Project Goals/Objectives: This project consists of performing a Comprehensive RUAA on San Miguel Creek (Segment 2108) for the purpose of ascertaining the level of recreational use occurring in the creek. This project will adhere to the procedures provided in the TCEQ Procedures for a Comprehensive RUAA and a Basic RUAA Survey. This Comprehensive RUAA of San Miguel Creek consists of 4 main tasks: a) conducting the required two surveys of San Miguel Creek, b) public participation and stakeholder interaction c) evaluation of historical bacterial water quality data and d) compilation of GIS data pertaining to the San Miguel Creek watershed. RUAA survey site selection is predicated on reconnaissance trips, public participation, and stakeholder interaction. An initial reconnaissance trip will be completed prior to meeting with stakeholders, and follow up trips when interaction with local landowners provides opportunities for additional sites. Two surveys will be conducted at each of the selected sites by NRA. Each survey will be conducted per the most recently applicable TCEQ RUAA guidance and will include the collection of transect information along a stretch of the creek at each site,  numerous physical observations, and collection of survey information from individuals either actively recreating at each site or knowledgeable of the site and San Miguel Creek in general. Each survey will be performed at a time of year under weather and hydrologic conditions that are conducive to observing recreational use on San Miguel Creek, which means when air temperatures are warm to hot (>70° F). Field surveys will be conducted during the period people would most likely be using the waterbody for contact recreation. A historical information review will be conducted on recreation use that occurred on San Miguel Creek on and after November 28, 1975. The public education and stakeholder interaction task is critical to the success of the project. This task will be performed by NRA to accomplish two complimentary goals – obtaining landowner permission for access to sites along San Miguel Creek and ensuring that decision-making regarding the RUAA is founded on local input. A public meeting will be held where the RUAA process is described and solicitation is made for access to the waterbody. Direct interaction with affected city councils, county commissioners courts, and soil and water conservation districts (SWCD)s will occur. Any necessary follow-up meetings will be conducted to further communicate the RUAA process and to obtain landowner permission for access to the creek. A final public meeting will be conducted to present findings of the RUAA surveys.

Project Background: San Miguel Creek (Segment 2108) is comprised of two assessment units (2108_01 and 2108_02) 66 miles long extending from Choke Canyon Reservoir in McMullen County to the confluence of Perez Creek and Chacon Creek in Frio County. Segment 2108_01 is not supporting the contact recreation use due to excessive bacteria.  In 2006, segment 2108_01 was listed as being impaired for bacteria. This listing has continued through to the 2012 Texas Integrated Report. The 2012 Clean Rivers program (CRP) Basin Summary Report noted a geometric mean of 131 cfu/100 ml for E. coli.  These levels exceed the 126 cfu/100 ml geometric mean criteria. San Miguel Creek reaches 66 miles extending from Choke Canyon Reservoir in McMullen County to the confluence of Perez Creek and Chacon Creek in Frio County.  The San Miguel Creek watershed is largely shrub, crops, and pasture with no major communities but a number of small communities.  Tributaries to San Miguel Creek include Chacon Creek, Live Oak Creek, Lagunillas Creek, and Bacerro Creek.  Road crossings include TX 85, TX 97, CR 347, CR 343, State Hwy 16, and FM 140.  Currently there is one active water quality monitoring station and one USGS stream flow gauge, both located near Tilden.  Permitted wastewater treatment facility (WWTF) outfalls on this segment include San Miguel Electric Cooperative, Moore Water Supply Corporation (WSC), and the cities of Charlotte, Devine, and Natalia. The TCEQ and the TSSWCB established a joint, technical Task Force on Bacteria Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDL) in September 2006 charged with making recommendations on cost-effective and time-efficient bacteria TMDL development methodologies. The Task Force recommended the use of a three-tier approach that is designed to be scientifically credible and accountable to watershed stakeholders. The tiers move through increasingly aggressive levels of data collection and analysis in order to achieve stakeholder consensus on needed load reductions and strategies to achieve those reductions. In June 2007, the TCEQ and the TSSWCB adopted the principles and general process recommended by the Task Force. Fundamental in the three-tier approach is ensuring that the appropriate water quality standard (i.e., designated use) is applied to the waterbody before initiating any watershed planning activity (e.g., TMDL or watershed protection plan). Major revisions to the Texas Surface Water Quality Standards (TSWQS) have been adopted by TCEQ, including modifications to contact recreation use and bacteria criteria. As part of this process, TCEQ developed procedures for conducting RUAAs. In order for a new category of recreational use or a different bacteria water quality criterion to be applied to a waterbody, an RUAA will need to be conducted. TCEQ and TSSWCB have collaborated on developing a list of priority waterbodies for collecting information needed for RUAAs. In 2006, San Miguel Creek was listed as being impaired for bacteria based on fecal coliform and E. coli analyses.  It was assessed as having a geometric mean for fecal coliform of 259 cfu/100ml and was declared impaired for E. coli but no concentrations were reported in the assessment. Since it is not known with certainty that recreational use in San Miguel Creek occurs, the findings from an RUAA will provide additional information regarding the level of recreational use occurring in Segment 2108.

 In accordance with the Memorandum of Agreement Between the TCEQ and the TSSWCB Regarding TMDLs, Implementation Plans, and Watershed Protection Plans, the TSSWCB has agreed to take the lead role in conducting an RUAA in the study area. Through this project, the TSSWCB and NRA will work with local stakeholders to progress through the data collection components of an RUAA and at the end of this project have adequate data that either supports the existing designated use (primary contact recreation) or supports a change in designated use.

Project Location: San Miguel Creek (Segment 2108)


Project Costs: Federal ($0); State ($128,571); Total Project ($128,571)

Project Participation: TSSWCB and Nueces River Authority

Project Workplan: 14-51

Project QAPP: 14-51

 Final Report: 14-51

"Protecting and Enhancing Natural Resources since 1939."

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