LCRA implements numerous programs to monitor and assess water quality in the Colorado River basin:
Reservoir and Stream Sampling Program
LCRA began monitoring water quality of the Colorado River within its 10-county statutory district in December 1982. The Reservoir and Stream Sampling Program serves as a general surveillance and trend assessment tool. Every other month water samples are collected at 58 locations and analyzed at LCRA's environmental laboratory.
Routine Biological Monitoring
Three locations on the lower Colorado River are sampled twice per year. Each site visit involves intensive fish and aquatic insect collection, as well as aquatic habitat analysis. Fish are identified and measured in the field and then released alive. Only on the rare occasions when identification is difficult are fish returned to the lab.
Bay Monitoring Program
In 1991 and 1992, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers diverted the Colorado River into West Matagorda Bay, increasing the amount of freshwater entering the estuary to increase biological productivity. Freshwater inflows greatly influence estuarine biological productivity by lowering salinity, increasing nutrients and providing sediments. LCRA currently maintains five continuous monitoring stations throughout the Matagorda Bay system.
Clean Rivers Program
Clean Rivers is a grant program, administered by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, which serves as a monitoring and watershed assessment tool for the state. LCRA coordinates data collection and evaluation by partnering with other water resource agencies in the Colorado River basin. A strong stakeholder process allows water quality issues to be examined without regard to governmental boundaries.
Colorado River Watch Network (CRWN)
Dedicated citizens who volunteer their time to monitor water quality in the lower Colorado River basin make up the Colorado River Watch Network. Volunteers provide extensive geographic coverage and frequent data reports, while also serving as an early warning system for potential water quality issues.
Aquatic Vegetation Management
Aquatic vegetation is an important component of waterway health. However, several of the Highland Lakes can experience excessive growth, especially of non-native, invasive plant species. LCRA manages aquatic vegetation that can impact operations in the reservoirs, and also works with interested stakeholders and lakeside property owners to minimize the impacts of excessive plant growth on recreation.
For more information, contact LCRA's Water Quality Protection staff through Ask LCRA.