Pecos River WPP Implementation Program

Project Work Plan

Efforts are underway to implement portions of the WPP developed for the Pecos River watershed in Texas. Two separate projects have been developed and are funded by the Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board and US EPA through Clean Water Act Section 319(h) grant funds to initially facilitate these efforts. Projects entitled "Implementing the Pecos River Watershed Protection Plan through Invasive Species Control (Saltcedar) and by Providing Technical and Financial Assistance to Reduce Agricultural Nonpoint Source Pollution" (TSSWCB Project #08-08) and "Implementing the Pecos River Watershed Protection Plan through Continuous Water Quality Monitoring and Dissolved Oxygen Modeling" (TSSWCB Project #09-08) will serve as a beginning for WPP implementation.

Continuing to treat saltcedar infestations along the riparian corridor of the river using aerially applied herbicide is a critical management strategy identified in the WPP that will be implemented. Approximately 1,775 acres of saltcedar along the main river channel of the river remain to be treated. The primary focus of spraying efforts will be to treat as much of this remaining live saltcedar in the reach of the river between Interstate-20 and Val Verde County as possible. This process will involve the acquisition of permission from landowners to spray saltcedar on their private property and to conduct follow-up activities such as debris removal, re-vegetation, long-term maintenance and additional treatment as necessary.

Removing dead plant material left behind from the saltcedar spraying effort will also be implemented. Carrying out this task will help combat low DO levels in the river by removing a large portion of decaying material very near the river and will ultimately reduce biological oxygen demand levels. In addition, removing treated saltcedar will lead to reduced sediment loading and allow flood waters to move down the river channel with fewer restrictions while carrying less debris. Burning this debris is currently the most cost-effective option available and is the preferred method of removal along the river. Natural re-vegetation will benefit greatly from burning this debris; nutrients left behind after the burns will benefit plants that come back and promote their prompt re-establishment and reduce sediment oxygen demand by preventing future sediment loading. The Texas Forest Service (TFS) will conduct controlled burns along the river to remove remaining debris. This work will leverage funding from other efforts in the watershed to remove the remaining debris in the upper portion of the river.

The Crockett and Upper Pecos SWCDs will provide technical assistance to agricultural producers in developing and implementing WQMPs in the Pecos River Watershed focused on restoring riparian areas and mitigating pollutant loads that adversely affect in-stream DO levels. The SWCD Technicians will develop WQMPs and assist landowners in acquiring cost-share assistance for the implementation of BMPs. This project will improve and enhance the abilities of local SWCDs to assist area landowners in preventing and abating agricultural NPS pollution. The technicians will be placed in the Upper Pecos SWCD (#213) and the Crockett SWCD (#235) and will work through cooperative agreements in adjacent SWCDs [Devil's River (#224), Trans-Pecos (#231), Rio Grande-Pecos (#237) and Sandhills (#241)]. The technicians will work under direction of the SWCDs, with assistance from the TSSWCB and NRCS, as needed.

The continued delivery of educational programs and information is crucial to effectively implementing the WPP. Project personnel will work closely with County Extension Agents, Extension Program Specialists and others to bring pertinent informational programs and information to the residents and landowners of the watershed. Seminars that provide information on watershed stewardship, proper grazing management, prescribed burning, and land management are programs that will be held in the watershed, as described in the WPP.

Observing changes in water quality and quantity will serve as means to evaluate the management practices implemented in the watershed and their ability to improve water quality. Many sources of data currently exist, however they are not compiled in a central location that is easily accessible or user friendly. An Extension Assistant will be tasked with compiling water quality and quantity data on a monthly basis and adding it to a central database that can be accessed through the project website.

Continuing to treat saltcedar infestations along the riparian corridor of the river and in upland areas of the watershed is critical to achieving sustainable long-term management of saltcedar in the Pecos River watershed. In areas where it is not desired, physically or economically feasible to treat saltcedar using aerially applied herbicide, other methods must be employed. Establishing populations of the saltcedar leaf beetle is one biological management option that will have long-term management benefits at a reduced cost as compared to aerial herbicide application. Previously established saltcedar leaf beetle colonies have shown the ability to repeatedly defoliate saltcedar stands and lead to the tree's eventual demise. This project will establish 10 separate saltcedar leaf beetle colonies throughout the Pecos River watershed where aerially applied chemical treatment is not feasible, chemical treatment has not been previously applied or where landowners desire. Extension will track and document the location and release date of biological control sites and the acres of defoliated saltcedar on each site.

In cooperation with TSSWCB and TWRI, TCEQ will identify a suitable station site location upstream of the US 67 crossing on the Pecos River near Girvin. TCEQ will design and install a continuous water quality monitoring (CWQM) station to assure compatibility with other CWQM stations in other segments of the Pecos River. This station will also be situated very near USGS gage 08446500, which is located just upstream of the US 67 bridge, to ensure that accurate water borne constituent loads can be calculated.

TCEQ will be responsible for the monthly maintenance and operation of the site for the entire three year period. TCEQ Region 7 personnel from Midland will provide the continuous calibration and maintenance of the system as required to ensure that data are being properly transmitted to TCEQ and posted on their CWQM network website. Additionally, TCEQ will coordinate with USGS to ensure that flow discharge measurement is continued at the USGS gage, data are verified and transmitted to the online database at TCEQ will ensure that proper quality assurance and quality control (QA/Q) is applied to the collection and dissemination of collect data through the inclusion of this new site in TCEQ's currently existing, EPA-approved, CWQM QAPP (to be updated to include the site a Girvin, TX).

Conducting computer based DO modeling is the second objective of this project and will be conducted by TIAER to identify the sources of pollution that influence DO levels in the Pecos River and have led to the current DO impairment in its upper reaches. Currently available data (streamflow, water quality, water rights withdrawals, and wastewater treatment facility discharges, etc.) will be utilized in this evaluation. The primary goals of the modeling exercise are to 1) identify the sources of pollution causing the DO impairment in Segment 2311 and examine DO dynamics in Segment 2310, 2) develop an estimate of load reductions, for each pollutant, needed to achieve water quality restoration, 3) evaluate BMPs and their ability to reduce pollutant loadings from identified sources affecting DO levels and 4) recommend a suite of BMPs, based on those in the Pecos River WPP, to be implemented throughout the watershed that will effectively lead to the restoration of water quality (DO). Results from this modeling evaluation will be combined into a Technical Report which will be distributed to landowners and entities involved in the development of the Pecos River WPP; based on their recommendations, conclusions from the DO modeling and evaluations of BMPs will incorporated into future revisions of the WPP and used to guide future BMP implementation. TWRI, with assistance from TIAER, will develop a QAPP for DO modeling activities consistent with the most recent versions of EPA Requirements for Quality Assurance Project Plans (QA/R-5) and the TSSWCB Environmental Data Quality Management Plan.

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