The Caddo Lake watershed is a rich and unique
ecosystem that straddles the Texas-Louisiana border. Historical, current, and possible future
stressors on this system may destroy aspects of the lake that make it so
valuable to humans and wildlife.
to protect the water quality and aquatic life of Caddo
is taking shape. This effort is being referred to as the Caddo Lake
Watershed Protection Plan.
The Caddo Lake Watershed Protection Plan relies heavily on volunteers,
although federal, state, and local organizations are actively participating
in this effort. Many public and
private organizations already are working to protect Caddo Lake
and the new Watershed Protection Plan will seek to incorporate these
actions into the plan and to examine what additional actions are
needed to assure the health of the watershed
Caddo Lake and its watershed face a number of
challenges that have been identified by the stakeholders. These
issues include point and non-point pollution affecting water quality;
drought and water withdrawals; threats to habitats; floodplain management;
and managing aquatic vegetation. Stakeholders are given the opportunity to
identify additional issues and will help set priorities in the Caddo Lake
Watershed Protection Plan as it is developed.
goal of developing a watershed plan designed to restore and protect water
quality and improve aquatic habitat and in close cooperation with the TCEQ,
the Caddo Lake Watershed Steering Committee has formed three workgroups to
address and develop five major components of the Caddo Lake Watershed
Protection Plan. These components
were identified as a result of stakeholder input and are the following:
· Water Quality: Low dissolved oxygen and low pH
(acidity) in water and mercury in fish tissue are the current impairments
to the aquatic life and fish consumption uses. Concerns for future impairments are
nutrient enrichment (from ammonia) and sediment contamination (from barium,
mercury, selenium, lead, and zinc). Air emissions are also a concern
because, for most water bodies in the United States, air deposition
is a major source of mercury in fish tissue.
· Water Quantity: This issue includes the amount of
water in the Cypress Creek system, the impacts of drought and water
withdrawals, and a flow regime that is significantly controlled by upstream
impoundments on Big Cypress Creek.
The timing and amount of flow has significant consequence to aquatic
and riparian habitats in the lower reach of Big Cypress Creek and Caddo Lake.
· Aquatic and Riparian Habitat: Changes in land and water uses
have altered critical aquatic and riparian habitat, and are forecasted to
continue to do so.
· Floodplain Management: Development in vulnerable areas of
the Cypress Creek floodplain may be occurring as a result of inaccurate or
missing floodplain maps.
· Aquatic Vegetation: This issue includes the role of
potential management strategies for native and exotic invasive vegetation. The Invasive aquatic vegetation in the
watershed to be controlled includes giant salvinia,
water hyacinth, and hydrilla.