Watershed Program Manager Mark Enders told council during the meeting that bacteria concentrations for both bodies of water have been increasing over the last decade.
The Watershed Protection Plan, Enders said, was developed three years ago by local stakeholders to address bacteria loading in those bodies of water, and the plan was finished and submitted to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and the Environmental Protection Agency. Because of that, Enders said the plan received grant funding to continue tracking data regarding the source of the bacteria, among other tasks within the plan.
Currently, bacteria reductions of 34% and 50% for Dry Comal Creek and Comal River, respectively, are needed to meet bacteria standards, Enders said.
Because a large amount of the bacteria in the bodies have come from nonavian wildlife, Enders said the WPP has helped pass a wildlife feeding ordinance in 2019, has been conducting educational outreach and has installed signage to address pet waste, among other initiatives.
"Education outreach is an important aspect of any watershed protection plan, and it's essentially required to receive funding," Enders said.
Most recently, Enders said WPP representatives worked with the EPA and other organizations to create an educational video that they are hoping to show at local movie theaters as a preview in the near future.
As for next steps, Enders said the WPP plans to go after more funding from the TCEQ and EPA to support further implementation of the plan, as well as continuing to monitor bacteria concentrations in both bodies of water.