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Area creek studied for rangeland effects on water quality

uck Creek is part of the Red River Basin. Located in the subwatershed of the Lower Prairie Dog Fork of the Red River, it is an unclassified freshwater stream, he said. The watershed is 289 miles square.

No identifiable point sources of pollution have been determined, he said, so any contamination would come from the watershed itself or non-point sources.

According to EPA guidelines, a single sample of E. coli should not exceed 394 colonies per 100 milliliter and a geometric mean of not more than 126 colonies per 100 milliliters, he said. Anything greater than 25 percent requires the stream to be listed as impaired.

In the Buck Creek samples collected prior to the Experiment Station's involvement, the allowable level of E. coli was exceeded in three different samples and the fecal coliform samples exceeded allowable rates in eight different samples, Sij said.

"People swimming or wading in the creek might have been at risk," he said.

"Our objective is to determine the load of the pollutant that a body of water can receive and still maintain its beneficial uses," Sij said. The load must be allocated among all potential sources of pollution within the watershed, and measures to reduce pollutant loads will need to be developed as necessary, he said.

Agriculture should not be considered the only source of pollution, Sij said. Wildlife could be a significant contributor of contamination.

"We know cattle can be a problem, but we have turkey, hogs, deer, beaver, raccoons, birds and other animals using this stream as their water source," he said.

The study established 13 monitoring sites along the creek in Donley, Collingsworth and Childress counties. In 2004, the E. coli numbers were high, exceeding water quality standards in many samples.

During the drought of 2005-2006 in the watershed, stream flow was greatly reduced, as were bacteria numbers, Sij
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Contact: Dr. John Sij
jsij@ag.tamu.edu
940-552-9941
Texas A&M University - Agricultural Communications
24-Oct-2006


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