Through Community Action Projects, Texas Stream Team , formerly Texas Watch, empowers communities with powerful strategies to take action and correct environmental problems. These strategies include trash clean-ups, streambank stabilization, storm drain stenciling. Assistance with assessing water quality information is also available on a limited basis and are generally focused in areas where interest in environmental problems inspire citizens to create positive change. In these areas, Texas Stream Team can also help communities with data screening, data analysis, and problem identification.
Texas Stream Team works with other environmentally conscious organizations to host clean up events at targeted sites throughout Texas. These clean- up efforts often dramatize for concerned citizens the "ugly truth" about some our precious waterways. By working hands-on to remove tons of trash and debris from our streams and rivers, citizens are exposed to the most blatant disregard for our waterways. Inspired to seek out ways to prevent the all-too-common tragedy of our littered water sources, many people are inspired to do more. Texas Stream Team typically delivers a message about nonpoint source pollution, its sources and its solution at these events. More than leaving the creek cleaner than when they arrived that day, citizens return home with a strengthened awareness about the impact all of us can have on our waters through nonpoint source pollution.
In areas where stream-bank erosion is a major cause of nonpoint source pollution, Texas Stream Team has supported streambank re-vegetation projects. The goal of streambank re-vegetation is to return both aesthetic and water quality benefits to the community. To carry out the streambank re-vegetation, a technical expert selects the appropriate plants and either grant money or a local sponsor funds the purchase of plants. Volunteers, some of them water quality monitors, are recruited for the planting, and arrangements are made with the local municipality or some other entity to maintain the plants.
Despite the states fairly uniform set of water quality standards and despite Texas Stream Team's standardized approach to water quality monitoring, every water body in the state is different. Each experiences it's own unique problems, and in turn, each requires it's own unique strategies and solutions. When resources are available, both at Texas Stream Team and in local communities, Texas Stream Team can assist monitoring groups in establishing a sampling design which is tailored to the specific water quality conditions and impacts. Should we go beyond the Texas Stream Team Core Program? Should we sample for nutrients? Bacteria? At what frequency? Texas Stream Team can help answer these questions.
After a group has monitored its site for a significant period of time (generally more than 2 years), Texas Stream Team, on a limited basis, will analyze the group's water quality data. This involves summarizing and statistically analyzing water quality sampling results, and comparing these results to other sources of data and the state water quality standards. This not only provides meaningful feedback to groups who are ready for a motivational boost after sampling for a long period of time, but also it can reinvigorate the group's water quality management objectives by illuminating new strategies and sampling routines. Sampling routines for example, can be expanded beyond the Texas Stream Team "Core" variables to include nutrient and bacteria sampling. Strategies for addressing water quality problems can move beyond sampling to include community action projects such as storm-drain marking and streambank stabilization.