Water quality training May 15 in Cameron will focus on Big Elm Creek

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CAMERON – A Texas Watershed Steward workshop on water quality related to Big Elm Creek will be held from 8 a.m.-noon May 15 at the Yards of Cameron, 301 Adams Ave. in Cameron.

The workshop is presented by the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service and the Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board with the Texas Water Resources Institute. The training is free and open to anyone interested in improving water quality in the region. Participants are encouraged to preregister at the Texas Watershed Steward website at https://tws.tamu.edu.

“This training is designed to help watershed residents improve and protect their water resources by becoming involved in local watershed protection and management activities,” said Michael Kuitu, AgriLife Extension program specialist and coordinator for the Texas Watershed Steward program, College Station.

Kuitu said the workshop will include an overview of water quality and watershed management in Texas, but will primarily focus on area water quality issues, including current efforts to help improve Big Elm Creek.

The training will include a discussion of watershed systems, types and sources of water pollution, and ways to improve and protect water quality. There also will be a group discussion on community-driven watershed protection and management.

“A portion of Big Elm Creek is on the state list of impaired waters for elevated levels of bacteria,” said Ed Rhodes, research associate for the Texas Water Resources Institute, College Station. “Therefore, we are working toward development of a plan to address the impairment.”

The institute will work in partnership with local stakeholders to develop a nonregulatory watershed protection plan for Big Elm Creek. The plan will seek to identify potential sources of pollution in the watershed and outline a strategy for protecting and improving water quality. More information on this project will be presented at the workshop.

“In addition to discussing Big Elm Creek, the workshop will offer a variety of continuing education credits for multiple professional disciplines,” said Floyd Ingram, AgriLife Extension agent for Milam County.

Ingram said he wants to encourage local residents and other stakeholders to attend the workshop to gain more information about water resources and water quality improvement and protection.

Attendees of the workshop will receive a copy of the Texas Watershed Steward Handbook and a certificate of completion. The Texas Watershed Steward program offers four continuing education units in soil and water management for certified crop advisors, four units for professional engineers and certified planners, four credits for certified teachers, and two credits for nutrient management specialists. A total of four professional development hours are available for professional geoscientists.

In addition, three general continuing education units are offered for Texas Department of Agriculture pesticide license holders and four for certified landscape architects. Four continuing education credits are provided to certified floodplain managers. Four continuing education credits are also offered for each of the following Texas Commission on Environmental Quality occupational licensees: wastewater system operators, public water system operators, on-site sewage facility installers, and landscape irrigators. Master Gardeners and Master Naturalists may also earn continuing education.

“Participating in the Texas Watershed Steward program is a great opportunity to get involved and make a difference in your watershed,” Rhodes said.

The Texas Watershed Steward program is funded through a Clean Water Act §319(h) nonpoint source grant from the Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

For more information on the Texas Watershed Steward program and to preregister, go to the website or contact Kuitu at 979-862-4457, mkuitu@tamu.edu; or Ingram at 254-697-7045, floyd.ingram@ag.tamu.edu.

For more information about watershed protection efforts for Big Elm Creek, contact Rhodes at 979-458-5663, edward.rhodes@agnet.tamu.edu.

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