LLMBSC

Background

The Lower Laguna Madre/Brownsville Ship Channel (LLMBSC) Watershed is located south of the Arroyo Colorado Watershed and north of the Rio Grande Watershed; and contributes approximately 25 percent of the freshwater flow into the Lower Laguna Madre Bay in Cameron County, Texas. The Br LLMBSC Watershed includes several TCEQ classified segments: the Lower Laguna Madre, (Segment 2491_03), the Lower Laguna Madre (Segment 2491_01), the Brownsville Ship Channel (Segment 2494), Port Isabel Fishing Harbor (Segment 2494A), the Lower Laguna Madre (Segment 2491A), and South Bay (Segment 2493). This watershed includes the City of Brownsville and numerous townships in the surrounding area. The human population of this watershed is approximately 350,000 people.

LLMBSC | Background

The Brownsville Ship Channel and Port Isabel Fishing Harbor are included on the 2014 Texas Integrated Report of Surface Water Quality for elevated bacteria levels.
In addition, the Brownsville Ship Channel and the Lower Laguna Madre, assessment unit 2491_03, have concerns for low dissolved oxygen. There is currently no bacteria
impairment for the Lower Laguna Madre Assessment Unit 2491_03, but there is a lack of routine bacteria data. Limited data has been collected to assess the watershed’s
impairments, concerns, and determining the contributing sources for these impairments. There is a lack of water quality data collection regarding the Resacas
(ancient distributary channels of the Rio Grande River).

As a response to the findings cited above, the Lower Laguna Madre and Brownsville Ship Channel (LLMBSC) Watershed Partnership Steering Committee (WPSC) was formed
in 2016 and the stakeholders, led by Cameron County, decided to develop a Watershed Protection Plan (WPP) to address the bacteria impairments and other concerns within
the watershed. Cameronc county and WPSC have appointed UTRGV civil engineering department to develop this Watershed Protection Plan (WPP) consistent with the EPA’s 9
Key Element Plan developed in conformance with the EPA Review Guide for Watershed-Based Plans, and Handbook for Developing Watershed Plans to Restore and Protect Our Water.

Workgroups Meeting Schedule

FY18
Q3
FY18
Q4
FY19
Q1
FY19
Q2
FY19
Q3
FY19
Q4
FY20
Q1
FY20
Q2
FY20
Q3
FY20
Q4
Technical Advisory
Agricultural
Habitat Coastal
Urban and
Infrastructure
Steering Committee

Steering Committee and Workgroup Meetings

Date
Type of Meeting
Meeting Agenda/Notes
10/17/2017 Steering Committee LLMBSC WP FY17Q1_SC_Notes final
02/02/2018 Ag and Habitat workgroup LLMBSC Feb 2 2018- Annotated
04/25/2018 Steering Committee LLMBSC Apr 25 2018- annotated
05/31/2018 technical Advisory Workgroup LLMBSC TAWG May 31 2018- annotated
08/08/2018 Steering Committee LLMBSC Aug 8 2018- annotated
12/05/2018 technical Advisory Workgroup LLMBSC meeting FY19Q1- Dec 5 2018-annotated v2.pdf

LLMBSC | Project Overview

The Director of Estuary, Environmental and Special Projects, who is a University of Texas Rio Grande Valley UTRGV) faculty member, serves as the Watershed Coordinator. This will assure a key component is in place to promote sustainability of the project. The diverse group of public officials, special interest groups and agencies participating on the LMPBWP have been asked to provide guidance for the direction of the project and development of the WPP. Input from stakeholders is critical to the success of all watershed planning and implementation efforts and will be sought throughout this project to provide information and assist in identifying BMPs for future implementation. Routine stakeholder meetings are held to provide information about the project objectives, data analysis results, GIS inventory updates and the results of the project.

Project information will be presented through other avenues as well (regional meetings, local government meetings, special interest meetings, project website, etc.).
The Watershed Coordinator is supported bby Cameron County, the LRGV TPDES Stormwater Task Force, the City of Brownsville, Texas A&M University-Kingsville (TAMUK), UTRGV, the Coastal Cities Task Force and LlMBSC WPSC.

To assist with the planning process, a comprehensive GIS inventory of the watershed will be developed by the UTRGV that illustrates waterbodies, roadways,
land use/land cover, soils, geology, and points of concern. These data will be provided to UTRGV and TAMUK researchers for inclusion in the model analysis.
Targeted monitoring and analysis of historic data will be employed, led by UTRGV, TAMUK and ISEE to assess ecological conditions, invasive species populations, bank erosion, and other indicators of watershed condition. Additionally, UTRGV will develop a watershed model using available historic data. The complex hydrologic conditions in the region reflect the contribution of dozens of tributaries, wide variations in rainfall intensity and distribution, and changes in vegetation and land use. Limited streamflow, precipitation, and groundwater level data are available to quantify these interactions, and such data are needed to precisely calibrate numerical hydrologic models to simulate the watershed’s behavior. Of particular interest are hydrologic models that can simulate changes in streamflow and groundwater recharge caused by land use and vegetation manipulation, such as removal of invasive vegetation. UTRGV is reviewing collected data and has recommended additional monitoring instrumentation and data collection. UTRGV will use existing hydrologic data, as well as land use and vegetation distributions, to prepare preliminary models of important subwatersheds within the region. Existing models such as SWAT and others will be considered for application. Modeling results will be used to inform stakeholders about the physical behavior of their watershed resulting from various implementation scenarios.

Finally, extensive education and outreach is under way. One outreach objective of this project is to organize “Lower Rio Grande Valley” symposiums, forums and workshops with topics and panels devoted to WPPs and their role in maintaining Healthy Watersheds. The WPP will use unique and innovative approachs to educate the public about water in the LRGV. The outreach program will provide perspectives from key stakeholders and illustrates the complexity and challenges in providing water for Valleyites in this century. The outreach venues will alternate among cities throughout Cameron County. UTRGV will work with local television and radio to expand message to neighboring counties and communities. Workshops and programs for children (K-12) will also be offered by this project addressing topics ranging from water resources education to land stewardship. Land stewardship programs will include such topics as grazing management, riparian protection, invasive species management, brush control, wildlife management, and other natural resource management topics. An ecologically literate public with knowledge and sense of a water and land ethic will be needed to make informed decisions on a variety of issues as resources become limited. Water resources education is needed at many levels to shed light on overall changing conditions of water scarcity, use, and competition and to inform discussions about potential changes in water-resource policies in relation to economic growth and quality of life. The majority of tomorrow’s decision-makers and potential leaders in Texas are today’s urban youths, with increasing minority composition, who have little real contact with natural resources and agriculture and little understanding of why soil and water need to be conserved. They also are future voters who can dramatically affect agricultural and environmental legislation in the next decade. Through watershed education and programs, UTRGV will introduce local students, their teachers, parents and land managers to ecology, nature, watersheds, and land stewardship.

Overall, this project will be successful when stakeholders have contributed to a consensus decision of goals, objectives, and indicators for addressing the water quality issues in the watershed. Through a series of public meetings and other stakeholder involvement outlined in the tasks herein, goals, objectives, and indicators will be tracked across meetings for consistency and overlap and presented to full stakeholder groups for a consensus decision. Further, this project will be successful when the watershed has been characterized through a data collection effort, stakeholder input, and successful modeling activities. Progress will be reported in quarterly progress reports and results will be providing in a final task report. Finally, through characterization, a successful project will result in recommendations for a future analytical approach for calculating loading reductions based on available data from previous tasks.

Funding

Funding provided by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality as part of a Clean Water Act Section 319(h) Grant.

Contact Info