Watershed Protection Planning
Watershed Protection Planning for the Dry Comal Creek & Comal River
The City of New Braunfels and its project partners are currently moving forward with the implementation of a Watershed Protection Plan (WPP) to address bacteria concerns in the Dry Comal Creek and Comal River watersheds. Phase One of the Dry Comal Creek/ Comal River WPP kicked off in August 2015 and included efforts to characterize the watershed, assemble a working stakeholder group and define bacteria load reductions needed to meet applicable water quality standards for bacteria. Phase Two involved continued stakeholder involvement, identification of bacteria management measures, and development of a watershed protection plan. The current implementation phase, which began in September 2018, will take the work plans developed during Phase Two and put those plans into action. Partners on the Dry Comal Creek/ Comal River WPP include the City of New Braunfels, ARCADIS, Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) , Edwards Aquifer Authority and Guadalupe Blanco River Authority (GBRA).
Historical data collected by GBRA as part of ongoing Clean Rivers Program sampling identified Dry Comal Creek (Segment 1811A) as impaired for E.coli bacteria. Segment 1811A was initially included on the 303(d) list in 2010. In 2011, the City of New Braunfels proactively initiated a bacteria monitoring program on Dry Comal Creek to supplement data collected as part of the Clean Rivers Program monitoring conducted by GBRA. The City of New Braunfels also initiated a supplemental bacteria monitoring program on the Comal River to address increasing bacteria levels in the Comal River watershed. A preliminary bacteria source tracking (BST) analysis was conducted in 2013 to help identify potential bacteria sources on the Dry Comal Creek and the Comal River. The preliminary BST analysis indicated significant contributions from wildlife. In 2014, GBRA added an additional monitoring location on the Comal River in Landa Park, upstream of the confluence with Dry Comal Creek, to help assess the impact of elevated Dry Comal Creek bacteria concentrations on the Comal River. The project team is utilizing all existing water quality data from the Dry Comal Creek and Comal River to support water quality modeling efforts and to help identify bacteria loading trends. Water quality data collected by the GBRA on the Dry Comal Creek and the Comal River as part of the Clean Rivers Program can be found on the GBRA website found at this link: GBRA Clean Rivers Program Water Quality Monitoring Locations and Data in Comal County.
- Watershed Protection Plan
- Implementation of the Watershed Protection Plan
- WPP Project Infographic
- Annual Implementation Task Summaries
- Stakeholder and Work Group Meeting Documents
The project team produced a draft WPP that was presented to the stakeholders at the meeting on June 22nd, 2017. The draft WPP was submitted to TCEQ for review on August 23, 2017. The final version of the WPP was approved by the EPA in mid-September 2018. The final version of the Dry Comal Creek and Comal River Watershed Protection Plan can be accessed by following the link below:
The project team received comments back from TCEQ on October 18, 2017. The comments and the project team's responses can be accessed by following the link below:
Implementation of the Watershed Protection Plan
The drafting and implementation of the Dry Comal Creek and Comal River Watershed Protection Plan is a multi-staged effort that has been broken down separate phases for funding and logistical purposes. The first two project phases and funding cycles of the WPP project were considered the discovery, planning, drafting, review, and approval phases of the project. In September 2018 the final draft of the WPP was approved by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the TCEQ. Also, in September 2018, the City of New Braunfels entered a second round of grant funding from the TCEQ for the WPP project. This marked the beginning third phase, the initial implementation phase, of the WPP project. Over the next three years, the City of New Braunfels will begin implementing the 10-year work plan developed during the drafting phase of the WPP. The tasks and activities listed below are to be implemented and assessed at the end of the three-year funding cycle for the current grant from the TCEQ.
Best Management Practices (BMP) addressing overabundant urban and non-native wildlife
- Finalize print-ready educational materials such as postcards and signage to be used to inform the public of the new city ordinance addressing not feeding the wildlife residing in city parks and in neighborhoods; install signage in highly-visible locations where wildlife feeding is likely to occur
- Create an outreach campaign to further the awareness and knowledge of the new city ordinance
- Hold educational workshops focusing on the new city ordinance, the reasoning behind the ordinance, and what citizens should to remedy issues caused by the feeding of wildlife
BMPs addressing stormwater and infrastructure
- Alert the citizens of upcoming On-Site Sewage Facilities (OSSF, a.k.a. residential septic systems) education and assistance programs
- Design and post new ‘No Dumping’ signs
- Evaluate the feasibility of surveillance systems for areas where illegal dumping occurs often
- Review existing and create new educational materials such as flyers, digital infographics, brochures concerning the importance of not dumping or discharging harmful waste into the sewer systems or onto the ground
- Locate new sites for and install additional pet waste stations
Outreach and Education
- Develop and present educational materials and presentations related to topics covered by the WPP at public events throughout the year
- Coordinate news releases and newsletter articles related to topics covered by the WPP
- Contract with New Braunfels Utilities – Headwaters at the Comal to hire a part-time outreach and education employee to provide educational content related to non-point source pollution at the new Headwaters of the Comal facility
Data Acquisition and Analysis
- Analyze water quality data collected throughout the year in the watershed
- Conduct an annual wastewater discharge assessment
WPP Implementation Schedule
(excerpt from Table 27: WPP Implementation Schedule, pp. 126 -127 of the Dry Comal Creek and Comal River Watershed Protection Plan)
Annual Implementation Task Summaries
Each year, City of New Braunfels and Arcadis staff will complete a summary of the tasks completed for the WPP implementation program. These documents can help stakeholders and other interested parties keep up with the progress of the WPP program. Below is the summary for the first year of program implementation. Check back each year to keep up with the progress of the WPP.
Overview of the Watersheds
Dry Comal Creek
Dry Comal Creek at Seguin Street, New Braunfels, TX. The stream segment
The Comal River begins in Landa Park in the heart of New Braunfels, TX as water from the Comal Springs discharges from the Edwards Aquifer along the Balcones Fault Zone. Average springflow from the Comal springs is more than 300 cubic feet per second! The Comal River is the shortest navigable river in Texas at 2 1/2 miles long. The river offers excellent water recreation opportunities and is also home to several endangered species.
The Dry Comal Creek/ Comal River WPP is one of the many watershed protection planning efforts occurring within the State of Texas. A listing of WPPs in Texas can be found via the following link: TCEQ Watershed Protection Planning Projects
Tips for Reducing Bacteria Loading:
Avoid feeding wildlife including deer, ducks, and geese. Feeding wildlife can lead to concentrated populations of animals which may result in increased bacteria content in our local waterways. Concentrated populations of wildlife can also result in the proliferation of harmful diseases among the animals. Feeding of wildlife is unhealthy for the wildlife themselves as decreases their ability to locate food on their own. Please view the information from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department regarding the negative impacts of feeding ducks: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oCPAAmlNXxI
Pick-up after your pet! Pet waste can be a significant source of bacteria in our rivers and creeks.
Perform routine maintenance of your septic system! It is recommended that your septic system be inspected regularly and pumped every 3-5 years. Comal County offers an online educational class that provides a general overview of homeowner maintenance for an OSSF (Comal County Environmental Health: Homeowner Maintenance Class). Additional information regarding septic system maintenance can be found by following this link (TCEQ: Basics for Septic Systems).
The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service has added “Homeowner Maintenance of Aerobic Treatment Systems” to its list of AgriLife Learn courses. Follow the links provided to find more information about enrolling in this class to learn about maintaining an Aerobic Treatment System.
More information about septic systems for New Braunfels residents can be found at the City's On-Site Sewerage Facilities website. For residents outside of the city limits but within the ETJ, please refer to the appropriate county for septic system information: Comal County Engineer's Office, Guadalupe County Environmental Health.
If you have any questions regarding the Dry Comal Creek/ Comal River Watershed Protection Plan, please contact the City of New Braunfels Watershed Management Division at (830) 221-4020