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Celebrating the importance of water quality

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Photo by: Sam King | Staff Photographer
San Martians swim and float in the river Aug. 11 at Sewell Park.

August is national water quality month, a time for citizens to celebrate their city’s water resources.

It’s good for the community to be informed of where water comes from and how to protect its quantity, said Jon Clack, assistant director of public services of water/wastewater.

“The majority of our drinking water comes from Canyon Lake and then flows down the Guadalupe River,” Clack said.

The water is piped to Highway 80, where the city of San Marcos and Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority have a water treatment plant. The city also has Edwards Aquifer Rights, which allows them to pull water from the town wells.

The city takes preliminary action to ensure the quality of our drinking water is clean and healthy.

“We do a lot of weekly, monthly and yearly testing, and collect about 2,000 drinking water samples and do a lot of testing and report it to Texas Commission on Environmental Quality,” Clack said.

The city will then send yearly water quality reports to inform the community of how healthy the water is.

Dianne Wassenich, program director for the San Marcos River Foundation, said the community has more than just healthy drinking water to celebrate, but citizens also have the San Marcos River.

“The good thing about our river compared to a lot of rivers is that it comes out of the ground pretty cool and having cool water in the river is really good as far as human health goes,” Wassenich said.

When water becomes warm, it imposes danger by causing bacteria to form, leading to various kind of problems in people’s health.

With 30 years of river clean up expertise, the San Marcos River Foundation concluded that their main focus was preserving the land, especially in the recharge zone above Spring Lake.

Urbanization and development can be a root cause of bacteria and sediment build up in the aquifer water, Wassenich said. It gets to the aquifer by permeating through holes in the limestone.

The Meadows Center composed studies and determined the little stretch of North LBJ and Craddock area is washing bacteria that accounts for a huge percentage of the bacteria in Sink Creek, which feeds Spring Lake.

“We already know that our town is affecting our river. But we have to keep it from affecting it worse,” Wassenich said.

She explains different ways citizens can help protect and promote the city’s water quality.

Avoid dumping oil on the ground or down storm drains. Instead, one should collect the oil and take it to an oil recycle center. Properly dispose of trash and chemicals to refrain from water pollution, Wassenich said.

“You just have to think about whatever you are putting on the ground is going in your water,” Wassenich said.

She advises against mowing close to creeks and rivers. The grass and its roots are equivalent. If the grass is 6 feet tall, the roots are 6 feet tall. By cutting the grass, the roots will weaken.

“You don’t want short rooted things by creeks and rivers, because when a big flood comes, it rips the grass out because it doesn’t have long enough roots to stand that force,” Wassenich said.

Wassenich said there are not a lot of bacteria problems in the river because it’s presently clean. The only time we have problems is when a sewer line leaks.

The city has been proactive in making sure we don’t have those problems by developing little machines that inspect the sewer lines for cracks.

Wassenich said she is thankful to live in a city where people recognize and take action when problems in the river occur. She encourages people to contact the city regarding questions of disposal.

“Just be aware that water is a precious resource. I think if everybody is conscious about everything they pour on the ground or in a storm drain or in a drain, that will go a long way,” said Wassenich.