Guadalupe-Blanco River Trust Preservation Matters

News

Guadalupe's water to be the most-monitored in state

December 2, 2008
Roger Croteau
San Antonio Express-News

The water quality in the Guadalupe River will soon be the most closely watched in Texas, as the Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority announced detailed plans regarding its River Basin Monitoring Network on Monday.

Right now, the GBRA has 27 sites where it tests river water either monthly or quarterly. But the new network will include automated stations that monitor the water quality continuously and post results from each site on the Internet at 15-minute intervals.

"We look forward to having the best monitoring system in the state on the best river in the state," said GBRA General Manager Bill West.

Initially, nine stations are planned, from the upper reaches of the Guadalupe River to San Antonio Bay, and seven other sites have been identified for stations later on. Eventually the network will include stations along the Guadalupe, Blanco and San Marcos rivers and most of their major tributaries.

Each site will monitor the pH of the water, water temperature, dissolved oxygen, and conductivity, which measures the amount of solids suspended in the water.

The solar-powered stations will collect the water samples, analyze them and transmit the data by satellite or cell phone to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, which will post them on the Internet at a Web address to be announced once the program is up and running.

"This will be a model for the rest of the state," predicted TCEQ Chairman Buddy Garcia.

Each station will cost about $25,000, and operating and maintaining each site will cost about $31,000 a year. The GBRA, U.S. Geological Survey, the TCEQ and the Guadalupe-Blanco River Trust are providing support for the project and seeking individuals, groups and businesses to help fund monitoring sites.

Todd Votteler, executive director of the Guadalupe-Blanco River Trust, said people can help the effort in a variety of ways.

"We are looking for students to go out and help with the monitoring sites," he said. "We are looking for private interests to write a check. And we are looking for ideas. I'm sure there are many other ways to help out that we may not have even thought of yet."

While the stations will not test for heavy metals, petrochemicals or poisons, if a spill of such substances does occur, it will likely affect the water's pH level or conductivity quickly, which would alert the TCEQ to check the area.

"The average person wants to know, 'How clean is the water in the river where I use it?'" Votteler said. "This program will allow you to get that information on the river or creek in your neighborhood."

Those interested in assisting the monitoring network can visit www.gbrtrust.org or call 830-372-5077.