NACOGDOCHES, Texas (KTRE) - The Attoyac Bayou runs through several East Texas counties and is listed by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality as being impaired due to its E. coli levels. The levels need to be managed and lowered in order to be removed from that list.
The Texas Water Resources Institute, the Attoyac Bayou Watershed Project, and other local organizations hosted a virtual training Monday on how to restore and protect those boundaries along a body of water called a riparian.
"When it rains, all of that water goes to the same point eventually, Texas Water Resources Institute’s Attoyac Bayou Watershed Program Specialist Emily Monroe said. “It will go down to the river, stream, or creek. After that water travels across land, the riparian area will help clean it.”
Officials say humans and animals contribute to E. coli in Attoyac Bayou Watershed. They say while bacteria levels are manageable right now, these projects can help get them below the state’s standards.
“That’s any kind of water body that you can wade in, people can swim in and you could possibly ingest,” program coordinator Carla Ethridge said. “The likelihood of you getting sick depends on the person, but the risk is always there. We want to get rid of the impairment of E. coli. It is a difficult thing to do, but it is attainable.”
“If there are high levels of E. coli, there’s probably high levels of other bacteria that’s really going to make you sick,” Monroe said.
They say there are many contributing factors to why levels are elevated: failing septic systems, feral hogs, livestock, runoff from pet waste, and people illegally dumping trash and animal carcasses but there are ways to help.
“Like fencing the livestock off from getting into the water and putting waste directly into the water,” Monroe explained. “You like to hunt, and you like to have a deer feeder on your land. Maybe putting an exclusionary feeder on there so like we talked about with the feral hogs this morning so there are fewer food sources for those feral hogs.”
Monroe says there’s also the possibility of bacteria from faulty septic systems running into the bayou, which could make people sick.
“It’s very important that we try to manage those situations as best we can,” Monroe said.
Septic System repair: call the Pineywoods RC&D at 936-568-0414 or e-mail Pineywoodsrcd@att.net for an application.
Monroe says funding for the Attoyac Bayou Watershed Protection Plan project is provided through a State Nonpoint Source Grant Program from the Texas State Soil & Water Conservation Board, and funding for the Attoyac Bayou On-Site Septic System Remediation Program is provided through a Clean Water Act §319(h) grant from the United States Environmental Protection Agency through the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.