San Antonio/ Parks & Nature
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Published on January 22, 2024
San Antonio River Authority Joins Forces with Texas Institute to Tackle Medina River PollutionSource: Google Street View

Troubled waters are getting some attention down in Texas, with a partnership formed by the Texas Water Resources Institute and the San Antonio River Authority aiming to clean up the spoilt Medina River. According to a report by the San Antonio Report, elevated bacteria levels have put a damper on the water quality below Diversion Lake, just west of San Antonio.

Jason Gerlich, a research specialist at the institute, mentioned there's not just a bacterial issue, but a nutrient concern as well, "Both the bacteria impairment and nutrient concern can begin to be addressed through the watershed plan," he told the San Antonio Report. Meanwhile, Lucas Gregory, an associate director of research, waxed ecological about the interconnectedness of water systems, reminding us that "water is a singular resource," and what happens upstream can quite literally flow downstream.

This clean-up initiative isn't just a localized affair. It's got federal backing, with Uncle Sam pitching in through a Clean Water Act grant. But before the heavy lifting starts, the institutes are opening the floor for public input. Laura Muntean, media relations coordinator for Texas A&M AgriLife, said they're still nailing down when the next public pow-wow is going to be, but they've already had a couple of gatherings in Castroville to pick the brains of the locals.

Once the community has had their say, it's down to brass tacks. The think tanks will take all those conversations, data points, and a hefty dose of science – courtesy of data collected by the San Antonio River Authority – to draft a plan that could include smarter farming practices and the return of native grasses to the riverbank, "They basically just review it and say, 'Yes, this looks good to us, it meets what we say a watershed plan needs to,' or give us other suggestions for the plan," Gregory told the San Antonio Report.

It's not just for the good of the Medina River either. According to another stake in the ground, the Medina River below Diversion Lake Watershed Protection Plan, floors upstream have been off the charts in E. coli since 2010 and its buddy Medio Creek joined the naughty list in 2018. A Watershed Protection Plan is being hammered out, driven by stakeholders and leaning on previous research, to right the ship not only for us land-goers but for the whole ecosystem that remembers it pays to be kind to its downstream neighbors.