The San Marcos River is one of the most pristine water sources in all of Texas. It is home to a range of endangered and endemic species. With it being such an integral part of San Marcos, water quality needs to be evaluated and maintained. Two professors at Texas State have been given a grant of $35,625 dollars by the Meadows Center for Water and the Environment to create an Upper San Marcos River Watershed Protection Plan. Dr. Nowlin, an ecology professor, is one of the recipients of the grant.
“The watershed protection plan has several components to it. The first is to understand land use and land cover characteristics of the upper san marcos watershed and really relate those to the water quality of the runoff coming into the river. Another ther aspect of that is to understand how water quality may change up and down the river and how it may change through time. One of the things is a public participation plan which we get stake holders from the watershed and get everyone to discuss their wants in regards to the river water quality”
- Dr. Nowlin
For the majority of the time the source to San Marcos River is the springs from the Edwards Aquifer feeding into Spring lake. However, during storm events San Marcos River gets runoffs from a number of different creeks; Sessom Creek, Purgatory Creek, Sink Creek, Willow Creek and a number of small tribuiteries throughout town. With this influx of water coming in from a variety of sources, water quality can be of great concern.
Through preliminary evaluation of land use strong correlation can be found between increased urbanization to the decline of water quality. Dr. Schwartz, a hydrogeology professor at Texas State and the other recipient of the grant, describes just how this happens.
“If there is increased urbanization and increased more intensive land use in the recharge zone than pollutants washed off that land enter the aquifer ultimately end up in the springs. During storm events we get pulses of sediments coming of the urban watershed in San Marcos and going directly into the river. So sediment and nutrients are some of the major concerns for endangered species.”
- Dr. Schwartz
As construction increases along the San Marcos River there is potential for an increase of pollutant, sediment, and bacterial runoff into the river and ultimately into the Edwards Aquifer. This can have adverse affects on the numerous endangered species that are found in the watershed and these endangered species are the only reason why San Marcos River exist today. However, the effects are not isolated just to the effects on the endangered species that are found in the area, but also to the economic value of the river.
One of the major parts of the plan proposed by Dr. Nowlin and Dr. Schwartz is to create a way for the public to be able participate in what is happening in and around the watershed to be able to have their voice heard.
“Public meetings will be held throughout the entire process. The goal is to get everyone including developers, the city council, the general public, scientist. Whoever is interested and has a stake in this watershed to the table and to get everyone there early to get everyone participated to custody of this as a community so we can determine what those goals are and what they want for the future of their river.”
- Dr. Nowlin
Being able to determine the effects and the source of water quality in the Upper San Marcos River Watershed will help guide the city of San Marcos to be able to continue to develop sustainably while keeping the waters of the river as pristine as they were yesterday.
If you are interested in finding out more about having your voice heard about what happens to the river the Meadows Center for Water and the Environment will be holding the first meeting on February twentyth at one p.m. You can find more information by visiting rivers.txstate.edu.
Virginia Brown, KTSW News.