Projects and Studies
The Environmental Sciences Department regularly works on small or short term water quality, pollution investigations or scientific studies (less than 5 years). When studies are completed, a report may be created, published or put on the SARA web site. Often these projects are funded by tax dollars or grants, but they may also be funded through private sources.
In August 2003 the Texas Department of Health (TDH) issued a fish consumption advisory for a reach of the lower Leon Creek (Segment 1906) bounded by Texas State Highway 90 (upstream) and S.W. Military Drive (downstream). This advisory was established after samples from several fish species collected in 2002 were found to have elevated levels of PCBs in the edible portion of fish tissue. Previous tissue analyses (whole fish) had detected the presence of PCBs in several species of fish in this reach.
There has been very little fish-tissue, sediment, and water quality sampling for PCB’s in the San Antonio River Basin. However, due to the findings by the TDH on Leon Creek, a follow up survey of PCBs in the aquatic environment is desirable. The survey would provide current information as to the extent of PCB contamination in Leon Creek. The survey would sample fish-tissue and sediments in Leon Creek and analyze for concentrations of PCB. As SARA’s contribution to the PCB Study, SARA has contracted with the US Geological Survey to conduct a sediment characterization survey. This study is to determine the occurrence and distribution of selected inorganic and organic hydrophobic (sediment bound) constituents in the watersheds in the San Antonio area. The River Authority’s share of the cost will be $111,500.
The San Antonio River Authority (River Authority) staff has expressed to the State Agencies preference to be engaged in the lower San Antonio River stream flow study as an active partner. The Environmental Services Department (ESD) Instream Flows Planning Project provides a budget for engaging a consultant to conduct instream flows study according to the States methodology, and to make instream flow recommendation to River Authority Staff. Project activities will also include planning, document and data review/comment, correspondence, attendance at meetings and keeping River Authority management and the Board of Directors informed.
The Texas Instream Flow Program (TIFP), jointly administered by Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, and Texas Water Development Board, has initiated a study of instream flows necessary to support a sound ecological environment in the Lower San Antonio River. The TIFP seeks to incorporate stakeholder input, insight, and concerns while conducting this study. With the assistance of the San Antonio River Authority, initial stakeholder meetings were held in February 2005. Additional stakeholder input and assistance is required at this time in order to develop a study design for the basin. The TIFP will be holding stakeholder update meetings and study workgroup meetings in the San Antonio River Basin from July 2008 to June 2009. The assistance of the San Antonio River Authority is sought in order to develop the stakeholder process in this sub-basin and provide administrative and organizational support for these meetings.
In response to the current statewide interest in using fish community composition as a tool to determine instream flows, ESD Biologists will re-evaluate the River Authority fish community data and conduct a statistical analysis in order to update, recalibrate and verify the San Antonio basin fish community metrics. This project provides funding for the River Authority ESD staff to research and analyze the fish community data base to develop up to date, applicable and accurate metrics. Project activities will include documentation and data review, data analysis, interagency coordination, correspondence, report preparation, attendance at meetings, and keeping the River Authority management and the Board of Directors informed.
There has been only limited research relating specific levels of nutrient loadings to desired use, water quality or aquatic ecosystem impacts. However, there are methods available that can analyze ambient water quality data and point source discharge information to provide opportunities for developing nutrient criteria. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) has developed a plan to comply with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requirements to adopt numeric nutrient water quality standards. The River Authority ESD shall conduct a data collection effort to provide information that will contribute nitrogen and phosphorous Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) discharge information to the analysis and development of nutrient criteria.
The objective of this data collection effort is to generate a data base of nutrient concentrations discharged from selected Wastewater Treatment Plants within the San Antonio River Basin. The data will be compiled into a data base that will compliment the existing River Authority water quality data base and support a continuous simulation water quality modeling analysis. Wastewater Treatment Plant discharge sampling, laboratory analysis, data management, and quality assurance/quality control activities will be conducted. The data will be made available to EPA, TCEQ, United States Geological Survey, or other agencies, and public stakeholders that may be involved with nutrient criteria development.
Specified reaches of the Upper San Antonio (segment 1911) and Salado Creek (segment 1910) have been identified on the TCEQ 303 (d) list as not meeting state stream standards due to elevated levels of coliform bacteria. The TCEQ Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) effort has determined the bacterial load reductions that will be required in order to meet compliance with state surface water quality standards. The Environmental Protection Agency requires that an Implementation Plan (IP) be developed to address the water quality impairments identified in the TMDL. The TCEQ has partnered with the San Antonio River Authority to develop an IP for the Upper San Antonio River and Salado Creek watersheds. The IP will identify best management practices to abate or control non-point sources of bacteria and develop a timeline for implementation. The IP development project will include information, input and planning from the Bexar Regional Watershed Management (BRWM) program partners, area stakeholders and the public.
This project will produce a document that will serve as a guide towards abatement control of non-point source pollution of coliform bacteria in the Upper San Antonio River and Salado Creek watersheds. Data, plans, information, and input from the BRWM partners, stakeholders and the public will form the basis for the IP. The IP will compliment the TCEQ TMDL effort by establishing the framework needed for implementation through public outreach, awareness, and input efforts, as well as collaboration with partners and stakeholders. The project will set short and long term goals for pollutant reduction in the watershed.
Appendix B—Monitoring Plan
Appendix C—Field Data Reporting Chain of Custody
Appendix D—Chain of Custody
Appenidix E—Data Management Plan
Appendix F—Data Review Checklist
(The following has been cited from Executed Agreement #153XXF7001)
The primary object of this project is for the SARA Environmental Services Division to perform representative monitoring and reporting of storm event discharges. These measures will assist in characterizing the quality of storm water discharges from the Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System. Monitoring will be performed on Ingram Road at Leon Creek Tributary during representative storm event discharges. Monitoring frequency: (1/season). Seasonal monitoring periods: December - March (dry); April - June (wet); July - August (dry); September - November (wet). The following parameters will be analyzed: Biochemical Oxygen Demand, Chemical Oxygen Demand, Oil and Grease, Total Suspended Solids, Total Dissolved Solids, Total Nitrogen, Total Kjeldahl Nitrogen, Total Nitrate, Total Ammonia, Total Phosphorus, Dissolved Phosphorus, Total Cadmium, Total Chromium, Total Copper, Total Cyanide, Total Lead, Total Nickel, Total Zinc, Fecal Coliform, Enterococci, pH, Hardness, Temperature, and Diazinon.
The anticipated total project cost is $27,360.00 per year. This entire project is being funded by the Texas Department of Transportation.
The draft 2008 TCEQ 303(d) List (March 19, 2008) identifies several assessment units in the Lower Leon Creek as being impaired based on the state’s contact recreation (bacteria) and high aquatic life (dissolved oxygen) use criterion. In response to these conditions, the TCEQ Total Maximum Daily Load Program in partnership with the San Antonio River Authority (SARA) have initiated a project to verify depressed dissolved oxygen and develop information necessary to support a bacterial (E. coli) Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) in the Lower Leon Creek, Segment 1906.
The specific objectives of the Leon Creek Segment 1906 TMDL for Dissolved Oxygen and Bacteria Impairments, TCEQ contract number 582-8-80193 are to: (1) Collect targeted 24 hour dissolved oxygen data in order to verify the water quality impairment and overall organic loading; (2) Collect targeted bacterial data in order to establish source of impairment and over loading; (3) Conduct modeling and assessment activities required to allocate loading; (4) Provide technical assistance to the TCEQ in the evaluation of actions necessary to achieve the recommended loading allocations, and; (5) Document, compile, and summarize technical analyses in reports to the TCEQ. There are two phases to this project; Phase I addresses dissolved oxygen deficiencies in Leon Creek, Phase II addresses excessive bacteria concentrations. Both phases will be conducted simultaneously.
In an effort to enhance the urban reaches of the Upper San Antonio River (segment 1911) and improve and protect water quality, the San Antonio River Authority (SARA) is proposing to update, revise, and implement the 2006 Upper San Antonio River WPP. The revised WPP will identify and propose water quality Best Management Practices (BMPs) that would serve to abate or control NPS pollution of bacteria, sediments and excess nutrients (nitrogen and phosphorous). The water quality goals of the project are to develop a plan for implementation of approved BMPs that would aid in reducing e-coli bacteria NPS loads to segment 1911 of the San Antonio River. The SARA and Bexar Regional Watershed Management (BRWM) partner's objective is to have the Upper San Antonio River compliant with State of Texas Surface Water Quality Standards (less than 126 organisms per 100 ml).