The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service and Mill Creek Watershed Partnership are hosting a partnership meeting May 9 in Bellville. The meeting will focus on bacterial source tracking, BST, with the purpose of gauging stakeholders’ interest in bringing a project to the Mill Creek Watershed.

The meeting is open to the public and will be held from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at the AgriLife Extension office for Austin County, 800 E. Wendt St.

The event is free with dinner being served along with the presentation. RSVP is required by calling 979-845-2862 or emailing [email protected].

Bacterial source tracking project, watershed coordinator introduction on agenda

“The goal of bacterial source tracking is to determine the major causes of E. coli impairments in a waterbody,” said Terry Gentry, Ph.D.,  Texas A&M AgriLife Research scientist and professor of soil and aquatic microbiology in the Texas A&M Department of Soil and Crop Sciences. “This information can then be used by stakeholders as they consider options for stewarding their watershed.”

BST is a tool that allows researchers to identify potential sources of fecal indicator bacteria, E. coli, in bodies of water. If the tool were implemented, it could be used to tailor educational programs, funding opportunities and outreach efforts to indicate sources of watershed pollution.

The program presentation will be led by Gentry with additional agenda items including the introduction of the new watershed coordinator Annalee Epps, the presentation of water quality data, and a discussion of planned events for 2023.

Watershed protection plan

In 2015, the Environmental Protection Agency accepted the Mill Creek Watershed Protection Plan created by local stakeholders. It was established to address the elevated levels of E. coli bacteria in Mill Creek due to nonpoint source pollution. The plan primarily provides community education, scientific expertise from AgriLife Extension and AgriLife Research experts, and support in seeking grants for water quality restoration.

Contact Epps at 979-845-2862 or [email protected] for additional watershed information.

Susan Himes
Susan Himes is a writer and media relations specialist for Texas A&M AgriLife. She writes news releases and features from science-based information generated by the agency. She also covers human interest stories and events across the state.
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