1999 Progress Report: Development of an Urban Watershed Rehabilitation Method Using Stakeholder Feedback to Direct Investigation and Restoration Planning

EPA Grant Number: R827147
Title: Development of an Urban Watershed Rehabilitation Method Using Stakeholder Feedback to Direct Investigation and Restoration Planning
Investigators: Matlock, Marty D. , Kenimer, Ann L. , Neill, William H. , Peterson, Tarla Rai , Samuelson, Charles D. , Whitten, Guy D.
Institution: Texas A & M University
EPA Project Officer: Hiscock, Michael
Project Period: October 1, 1998 through September 30, 2001 (Extended to March 31, 2003)
Project Period Covered by this Report: October 1, 1998 through September 30, 1999
Project Amount: $838,767
RFA: Water and Watersheds (1998) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Water , Water and Watersheds


This project has developed and is testing a method for restoring the ecological integrity of urban watersheds that combines ecology, engineering, and social science. Research is being conducted on two streams in the San Antonio metropolitan area. Research questions include: Can a risk-based watershed model linked with two eco-indicators in a regressive ecological risk assessment for a complex watershed quantify the uncertainty associated with ecosystem rehabilitation? Will stakeholders' understanding of nonpoint source (NPS) pollution issues, ability to use scientific information about Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs), and communication competence improve as a result of Collaborative Learning (CL) intervention? A watershed model of ecological risk assessment is being developed. Models of stakeholder knowledge levels, environmental attitudes, and compliance patterns also are being developed.

Two integrated eco-indicators are being used to evaluate and communicate risk to the stakeholder group. This risk-based model is used to initiate discussions between stakeholders and scientists in an iterative process that results in an informed and stakeholder-driven action plan for watershed rehabilitation. This project provides a more sophisticated framework for the guidance and evaluation of watershed-level decisionmaking on TMDLs.

Progress Summary:

Watershed Survey Summary. A public opinion survey was designed to obtain detailed measures of public opinion on general and specific environmental issues and on local watershed issues, among others, and to identify potential participants in the stakeholder recruitment process. This survey was administered to 1,017 randomly selected residents of Bexar County, Texas, by the survey research division of the Public Policy Research Institute (PPRI) at Texas A&M University between March 13, 1999, and May 2, 1999. Currently, these data are being analyzed. The analysis will be used to inform the Collaborative Learning process.

Stakeholder Recruitment and Involvement Summary. An approach known as Collaborative Learning is being used to structure and facilitate stakeholder group activities among large, heterogeneous groups. Potential participants were identified, who represented multiple interests and geographic locations within each watershed, using names obtained from the random sample of respondents to the public opinion phone survey and from relevant agencies charged with managing the Salado and Leon Creek watersheds in San Antonio, TX. Residents of the Salado and Leon Creek watersheds were recruited to participate in 12-18 stakeholder group meetings to be held on a monthly basis. The first CL stakeholder meetings were held on November 12 and 13, 1999, and currently, the team is preparing for the December 1999 and January 2000 CL stakeholder meetings. Basic curriculum design for the CL process has been completed. A pretest survey was administered at the first November CL stakeholder meetings, and follow-up post-test surveys, which include a set of overlapping questions, will be administered to participants in the Salado and Leon Creek Restoration Councils after completion of their watershed action plans. Following completion of the stakeholder groups' implementation plans, a final post-test survey will be administered to all participants in the two stakeholder groups.

Ecological Investigation. Field investigations of ecological processes were initiated in August 1999. Two sites were selected on each stream (one upstream and one downstream) flowing through San Antonio, Texas. Periphyton response to nutrient loading (nitrogen and phosphorus) was measured at each site in situ using the Matlock Periphytometer. Also measured was the survival, growth, and MMS of bluegill acclimatized in ambient stream water at each of the four sites.

Modeling Activities. Geographic data have been compiled from a variety of sources (U.S. Geological Survey, Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and National Aeronautics and Space Administration) to develop input data files for BASINS-HSPF. Calibrating BASINS-HSPF in Salado Creek has been done in collaboration with the San Antonio River Authority (SARA) and Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission. Calibration data currently are being developed for Leon Creek.

Future Activities:

Second and third-year activities include completion of the Collaborative Learning process, a post-test survey, summer and winter periphytometer and MMS assays, collection of data from streamside mesocosms, and collection of respirometry and periphyton data for relations of responses to environmental and water quality variables.

Journal Articles:

No journal articles submitted with this report: View all 13 publications for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

watershed, ecosystem, stakeholder, complex systems, restoration, collaborative learning., RFA, Scientific Discipline, Water, Geographic Area, Ecosystem Protection/Environmental Exposure & Risk, Water & Watershed, Restoration, State, Aquatic Ecosystem Restoration, Environmental Engineering, EPA Region, Watersheds, Social Science, stakeholder groups, social science research, community involvement, urban watershed rehabilitation method, decision making, community-based research, non-point source pollution, conservation, management alternatives, Region 6, Texas (TX), ecological recovery, integrated assessment, game theory, aquatic ecosystems, environmental rehabilitation, non-point sources, water quality, public policy, ecology assessment models, sociological, watershed restoration, aquatic habitat protection , community values, restoration planning

Relevant Websites:


Progress and Final Reports:

Original Abstract
  • 2000 Progress Report
  • 2001
  • 2002
  • Final Report