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Rivers Systems Institute, Texas Watch plan record water quality survey

By Philip Hadley
University News Service
October 12, 2007

On Oct. 17 -18, the Texas River Systems Institute at Texas State University-San Marcos will team with Texas Watch to conduct the most rigorous water quality sampling survey ever attempted on a Texas river.

The focus of the survey will include the San Marcos River and four of its major tributaries. The project is part of the Texas State Common Experience and World Water Monitoring Day. It will enlist the help of dozens of trained volunteers, said Jason Pinchback, senior coordinator and project development specialist for Texas Watch-River Systems Institute.

“This project is a major undertaking that will examine bacteria levels that are important statewide and to human health, including anyone who enjoys swimming, fishing, and wading in the San Marcos River,” Pinchback said. 

Volunteers in canoes will take more than 356 water samples beginning at the upper end of Spring Lake and ending above the convergence of the San Marcos and Blanco rivers. Samples will also be taken from locations along the Sink, Purgatory, Sessom and Willow Springs watersheds.

The survey will analyze levels of e coli bacteria as well as dissolved oxygen, pH and conductivity. This information is important for determining the conditions for both human use and aquatic species’ health.

“I would expect low levels of bacteria in the San Marcos River itself,” Pinchback said. “However, we are also sampling four different unmonitored feeder streams. I would anticipate some interesting results from those.”

The institute is currently looking for volunteers that can assist on one or both days of the event.

“Anyone can volunteer,” Pinchback said. “You must be able to work a minimum of three hours either day to assist with data collection, fieldwork and sample processing, and canoe skills are a plus.”

Grant funds from the Environmental Protection Agency, Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, Texas Watch and River Systems Institute are sponsoring the majority of the event.  The City of San Marcos, San Marcos River Foundation and TG’s Canoe Livery will provide local sponsorship.

For additional information, or to volunteer, contact Jason Pinchback at JP30@txstate.edu or call (512) 245-9148.