Many of our current cities and towns in Texas were founded on the discovery of clean, abundant water. Natural springs, clean creeks, and healthy rivers allowed for the quenching of thirst from parched travelers, the commerce of traders, and the playful happy hour of wading in cool, clear water.
Within the past decade, the Texas Stream Team has deepened our understanding of the condition of select natural springs in Texas. Long-term volunteer efforts through valuable citizen science in places such as Georgetown, Travis County and Dallas have allowed for a deeper insight into the clear water which Texans have loved and cherished for generations.
Science at Pogue Springs, Travis County:
The Colorado River Watch Network (CRWN), the citizen scientist arm of the Lower Colorado River Authority, has been monitoring a handful of springs in and around Austin for several decades. In recent years, near-consistent monitoring at Pogue Springs on Milton Reimers Ranch Park in Travis County have identified a rare sort of natural spring which allegedly has not gone dry within the last decade, despite intense droughts and local increases in the demand for groundwater pumping.
Since 2010, CRWN’s volunteer Citizen Scientists at Pogue Springs have been documenting a consistent water temperature with an interesting average that is close to that of the average annual temperature of the City of Austin: 69 degrees Fahrenheit. Pogue Springs averages 68 degrees year-round. A near consistent 7.0 on the pH scale in addition to a moderate dissolved oxygen average of 6.9 mg/L demonstrate that this spring water could have a high residency time underground.
In addition to the standard suite of Texas Stream Team tests at the site, CRWN volunteers have monitored E. coli 78 times out of the total 87 monitoring events at their site. This has described a low geomean for E. coli at the site of 40 colony forming units (CFU’s). Lastly, citizen scientists have been documenting the Nitrate-Nitrite content at the springs, which is usually at a low 0.25 mg/L. A clean, resilient spring in the Texas Hill Country with extraordinarily little background information has been getting a new spotlight through science thanks to volunteers at CRWN.
Interested in getting more out of your Texas Stream Team? Schedule your upcoming Advanced Citizen Scientist Trainings for E. coli and other procedures with your local Texas Stream Team coordinator or through the main office at TxStreamTeam@txstate.edu.
Stay tuned for next month’s Springs of Texas Mini-Series as we look into the citizen science at Big Springs.
The springs featured in this mini-series are each located on public lands owned by their respective municipality or county park system. Please observe the posted rules for each site when deciding to make a visit.