Water Quality Impairments
In 2006 the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) conducted a Waste Load Evaluation (WLE) on Upper Cibolo Creek in order to amend the City of Boerne's Wastewater Treatment Facility (WWTF) discharge permit. During sample site selection for the WLE, TCEQ staff were surprised to find an area with such ecological, hydrological, and geological significance. The area along Cibolo Creek within the Cibolo Nature Center and the Cibolo Preserve is composed of diverse habitats where the creek contains long open runs, deep shaded pools, riffles, springs, groundwater recharge features, and exposed fossil beds typically found deep within the earth's surface. TCEQ staff realized this stretch of Cibolo Creek was unique.
While conducting the WLE, TCEQ staff noticed the beginning stages of a large residential development planned for 600 homes on the property adjacent to the Cibolo Preserve. In August 2006, TCEQ conducted an Aquatic Life Monitoring (ALM) survey to determine the overall health of the creek and obtain base line data before major aspects of the construction began. Initial findings indicated borderline exceptional levels of aquatic life use. A second ALM survey was conducted in June 2008 and produced similar results.
In 1999, Upper Cibolo Creek (Segment 1908) upstream of the confluence with Balcones Creek near Boerne, Texas, was listed on the Texas Water Quality Inventory and 303(d) List of impaired waterbodies for depressed dissolved oxygen (DO) and elevated levels of fecal coliform bacteria. From 2000-2004, Upper Cibolo Creek was only listed for depressed DO and in 2006-2008 Upper Cibolo Creek was listed only for bacteria. Screening level data for nutrients collected during the 2008 assessment also indicate a concern for orthophosphorus and ammonia. The 2010 Texas Integrated Report for Clean Water Act Sections 305(b) and 303(d) (IR, formerly the Texas Water Quality Inventory) once again indicated a bacteria impairment in the upper portion of Upper Cibolo Creek and nutrient concerns in the lower portion of the creek. As a result of TCEQs findings, coupled with trends in land use change and a history of local water quality impairments, the City of Boerne with help and encouragement from the Cibolo Nature Center, applied for and was awarded a Clean Water Act Section 319(h) grant to develop a Watershed Protection Plan for the Upper Cibolo Creek Watershed.