Experts explain how East Texans can protect water

NACOGDOCHES COUNTY, TX (KTRE) - By Donna McCollum - email

NACOGDOCHES COUNTY, TX (KTRE) - This is a picture of e. coli. It's naturally in your intestinal system, right now, but no one likes the idea of having it in their drinking water.

"The state has a water quality standard and currently the Attoyac Bayou is not meeting that standard," said Lucas Gregory, of the Texas Water Resources Institute and program manager of Attoyac Bayou.

The Texas Watershed Steward Program is educating residents on how to better protect waterways. In Deep East Texas, the concern is ammonia and e. coli in the Attoyac Bayou watershed.

"Most people are relatively in the dark about what's going on in their backyard," Gregory said.

The Attoyac and its many tributaries receive up to 45 inches of rain a year.

"That runoff naturally carries with it whatever is on the ground," Gregory said.

Pollutants come from natural sources.

"Anything with hair, fur or feathers is how I like to put it," Gregory said.

That means cattle near natural waterways can pose a problem.

"If you have a cow-calf operation by not allowing the cows to actually get down in the tributary or the Attoyac Bayou itself, that's one way to make sure the watershed is not being more impaired with bacteria," said Anthony Castilaw, the Attoyac Bayou watershed coordinator said.

Pollutants can come from heavily fertilized hay pastures or even urban lawns.

"Making sure that you're only applying the amount that you need, that you're applying it at the proper time and using precautions," said Nikki Dictson, an Agrilife program specialist.

Everyone has a responsibility to protecting water resources. The health of the watershed determines the health of those who use it.

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