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Let's Improve Plum Creek Together!
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Town Branch Questionnaire
Most of Caldwell County and parts of Hays and Travis Counties are in the Plum Creek Watershed, a roughly 400 square mile area that flows to Plum Creek, which in turn flows to the San Marcos River. All water that falls as rain or rises from springs makes its way to this common point after draining both rural and urban areas around Kyle, Lockhart, Luling, and many smaller communities.
Our activities and actions here in Lockhart directly impact the water quality of Plum Creek.
City of Lockhart Awarded TCEQ Grant
The City of Lockhart was recently awarded a grant from the Texas Commission Environmental Quality (TCEQ). This grant combines Federal and State funds to be used to assist in improving the quality of the water in the Plum Creek Watershed which, ultimately flows into the San Marcos River and then into the Guadalupe River. The Plum Creek Watershed, San Marcos and the Guadalupe Rivers are a critical part of the Carrizo - Wilcox Aquifer Recharge Zone. A portion of the city's water supply does come directly from the aquifer by way of strategically placed city wells.
The City of Lockhart is partnering with EPA, TCEQ, GBRA, Texas AgriLife Extension Service and the TSSWCB to work towards improving the quality of the water entering the watershed. The citizens of Lockhart play a vital role in the program. By eliminating grass clippings being blown into the street gutters and eliminating the use of phosphates in the process of washing our vehicles, sidewalks and commercial properties we can reduce NonPoint Source Pollution (NPS) and thus, reduce contaminates from entering the mid section of the watershed region for which the city plays a critical part.
Residents can help by using biodegradable detergents when washing their vehicles, sidewalks and commercial properties. Washing of vehicles can also be done at local car washes that trap systems are utilized to prevent pollution from entering the creek systems around town. Biodegradable products can be purchased within our local retail stores. If for some reason you are unable to locate a product that states it is environmentally friendly, ask the Store Manager for assistance or request they begin stocking the items.
The City Council took the initiative by passing Ordinance 2010-02 amending the Code of Ordinances in Chapter 48, Solid Waste by adding Section 48:47, prohibiting disposal of natural yard waste into streets and/or drainage facilities. This ordinance is currently in effect and we would like to request our residents to be mindful of the ordinance when performing yard work. This will help the community reduce pollution from entering the creek systems.
By taking an active role in partnering with the EPA, TCEQ, GBRA, Texas AgriLife Extension Service and the TSSWCB, the City of Lockhart's residents can step to the forefront and be noted as a model for other communities to follow as an example of community conservation and protection of a vital resource...Fresh Water.
Plum Creek Water Protection Plan
When left in a natural state, streams are capable of performing myriad functions that are of value to humans, and the importance of these functions are the reason that humans have historically been drawn to live near streams and rivers.
Over the past decade, concerns about the degradation of Central Texas watersheds have led to a boom in the implementation of stream restoration projects. These projects are most commonly designed to improve instream and riparian habitat, stabilize streambanks, minimize the impact of non-point source pollution and enhance biodiversity. The City of Lockhart has taken the lead in sponsoring the restoration of Town Branch Creek that runs through the heart of the City.
The 2014 Texas Integrated Report identified elevated bacteria concentrations and concerns for impaired habitat, nitrates, and total phosphorus in Plum Creek, segment 1810_02. The report also listed Town Branch, segment 1810A, a tributary of Plum Creek, with water quality concerns for bacteria concentrations in excess of the standard, depressed dissolved oxygen, and excessive nitrate levels. In May 2016, the two-year geometric mean for E. coli bacteria at the Clean Rivers Program (CRP) routine monitoring station on Town Branch, located in Lockhart’s City Park, was well over the 126 per 100 ml standard for bacteria. Just upstream of the CRP monitoring station, the City of Lockhart observed the following situations as possible considerations within their park and urban trail lands: Non-contiguous areas of invasive exotic plants, channel aggradation and increased sediment deposition, areas of excessive erosion, areas of excessive algae growth.
The following are common hindrances observed in Texas riparian areas:
Underlined above are some of the issues facing Lockhart that can be easily addressed by Best Management Practices (BMP). Some of the BMPs that will be used include Grow Zones, Rain Gardens, Interpretive Signs and the removal and replacement of non-native vegetation.
These areas can be found all along Lockhart’s Spring Walkway and other locations found within the Parks System that are adjacent to Town Branch. The city has implemented these Grow Zones by letting the native vegetation to grow up and help stabilize the creek bank. This helps with erosion and helps filter out some contaminants. Historically mowing crews have mowed as close to the creek as possible. Though it looks better to the untrained eye it actually causes more damage than it helps. At first it looks unmaintained and rough but after secession takes place the unsightly species will start to be replaced by more attractive plant species.
Gardens to treat storm water runoff from parking lots, roadways, or driveways through temporary collection of the water before infiltration are sometimes called rain gardens or known as bioretention. They are slightly depressed areas into which storm water runoff is channeled by pipes, curb openings, or gravity. They are usually designed to handle a one-inch rain, or what is called the first flush of a rainfall. Any type of soil can conceivably be used with the exception of shrink-swell clays. Vegetation placed in the garden should be tolerant of wet periods but not “wetland obligate” plants as the garden will not hold water for long periods of time. Rain gardens can help mitigate water quality issues. Plant nutrients (especially phosphorus) may be adsorbed to soil particles or taken up by the vegetation in the garden. Sediment may be removed through sedimentation as the water is held temporarily. Metals may be adsorbed to soil particles or organic matter. Pathogens may be destroyed through microbial processes in the soil, or through exposure to sunlight and dryness.
Public education is key for any successful project. What better way to educate the general public than with interpretive signs? These signs will allow for easy understanding of the steps the City of Lockhart is taking to promote a healthier creek. A picture is worth a thousand words states the old saying and this could not be truer for interpretive signs. Illustrations of the processes make it easier for the complex concepts to sink in to the young minds of children as well as many adults. These signs can also help identify unwanted non-native species and help identify the plant species native to Central Texas that we are trying to get established. This is also an opportunity to explain the benefits of these species within riparian areas.
Removal and Replacement of Non-Native Plant Species
One of the problems facing Town Branch Creek is the invasive non-native species (Arundo and Elephant Ears). These species can be devastating to Texas riparian zones and they are easily spread. They can change flood patterns, divert waterways, degrade native wildlife habitat and cause bank erosion. Attempting to remove these problem species can cause more issues if not done properly. Mowing, tilling and shredding are not useful with these species. For one they are usually found in very sensitive areas that can erode once removed so immediately after manual removal another native species must be planted to take its place.
City of Lockhart
308 W. San Antonio St.
P.O. Box 239
Lockhart, TX 78644
Phone: (512) 398-3461
Fax: (512) 398-5103
Open Monday - Friday
8:00am - 5:00pm
CONTACT NUMBER BY DEPARTMENT
(512) 398-3461 City Hall
(512) 376-9469 Municipal Court
(512) 398-6452 Public Works
(512) 398-4401 Police Department
(512) 398-2321 Fire Department
(512) 398-3223 Public Library
MAYOR AND CITY COUNCIL MEMBERS
Lew White, Mayor
Angie Gonzales-Sanchez, Mayor Pro-Tem
Brad Westmoreland, Council Member At-Large
Juan Mendoza, Council Member District 1
David Bryant, Council Member District 2
Kara McGregor, Council Member District 3
Jeffry Michelson, Council Member District 4
Copyright © 2016, City of Lockhart, TX
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