Bacteria are the number one cause of water quality impairment in Texas. BST is a valuable tool for identifying human and animal sources of fecal pollution to support development of watershed plans, TMDLs, and other strategies for addressing these impairments. Comprehensive BST has been completed by UTSPH EP and AgriLife SCSC in numerous watersheds throughout Texas with support provided by the TSSWCB. As a result of these joint efforts over the last decade, the Texas E. coli BST Library (ver. 5-15) currently contains 1,765 E. coli isolates obtained from 1,554 different domestic sewage, wildlife, livestock and pet fecal samples. Despite its expansiveness, continued development and refinement of the library to include additional known source isolates from additional Texas watersheds and different animal hosts is needed to further increase its utility. Looking to the future, library independent BST holds much promise. It is already being used to support BST analyses in Texas. However, to improve its ability to address the needs in Texas, further work is needed to develop and evaluate new markers. Finally, continued outreach and technology transfer is needed to expand awareness and understanding of BST, foster dialogue and collaboration, and bring water resource managers up to speed on advances in BST technologies, methodologies, applications and results. During the course of this project, AgriLife SCSC and UTSPH EP continued work to evaluate and further develop/refine source-specific bacterial PCR markers. Specifically, efforts were made to evaluate the addition of library-independent markers to the Texas BST toolbox. Further, TWRI, AgriLife SCSC and UTSPH EP cooperated with other entities nationwide to ensure that the most up-to-date and accurate BST approaches are implemented in Texas.
Location: Statewide, Plum Creek and Big Elm Creek