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Monitoring Group Spotlight: Wimberley Valley Monitors

Monitoring Group Spotlight: Wimberley Valley Monitors

The Cypress Creek watershed is a significant tributary of the Blanco River located in Hays County, in the heart of the Texas Hill Country. Cypress Creek rises from Jacob’s Well and flows through the City of Woodcreek before it meets the Blanco River in south Wimberley, just upstream from the Blanco River/Ranch Road 12 junction.

The watershed is home to a unique set of rural and urban communities, habitats, and ecosystems that rely on groundwater from the Trinity Aquifer. Used primarily for residential and commercial water supplies in the area, this groundwater supports the thriving economy of the Wimberley Valley. With Hays County population expected to grow by 300 percent in the coming years, the region is experiencing increasing development and a growing demand for water.

The Wimberley Valley Monitors group was established in 2008 to protect and monitor the Cypress Creek watershed’s water resources and ensure the proper stewardship of this valuable community resource. We chatted with John Moore, Quality Assurance Officer, to learn about the history and current priorities of the Wimberley Valley Monitoring Group.

Photo of the first sampling from Lone Man Creek in June 8, 2008.
Photo of the first sampling from Lone Man Creek in June 8, 2008.

Q: When was the Wimberley Valley Monitors Group established?

In the spring of 2008, three Hays County Master Naturalists, Ginger and Laray Geist and Larry Calvert, became certified Texas Stream Team trainers and began testing the waters of the Upper Lone Man Creek, a tributary of the Blanco River. The Nature Conservancy paid for the testing kits.

Q: How many members are currently involved?

A master naturalist project was started, coordinated for years by the Geists, and over time, more folks took the Texas Stream Team training and began testing other spots on the Blanco, and the group was recently combined by Texas Stream Team with other testers in the area, leading to the current group now called the Wimberley Valley Monitors group.

The group currently consists of eleven volunteers, testing water quality at fifteen sites. As long-time testers have retired, new recruits have stepped in. Recently, we’ve restarted testing in the Plum Creek area, as well as at El Rancho Cima, both sites which had been untested for years.

Q: What are your groups current priorities, or initiatives?

Hays County has given us monthly access on the Blanco River at the planned Sentinel Peak Park and Preserve, to be developed in the next few years at the site purchased at the former El Rancho Cima, so we can develop baseline testing including E. coli bacteria, well before the park is finished and open to the public.

Sarah Carlisle testing recently on the scenic Blanco River in Wimberley.
Sarah Carlisle testing recently on the scenic Blanco River in Wimberley.

Q: From your perspective, how has the Wimberley Valley Monitors Group impacted the community?

The Hays County chapter of the Texas Master Naturalists has been in operation for 22 years in the community and is “dedicated to the beneficial management of natural resources and natural areas in a community through projects, trainings and volunteer opportunities.” Water testing is but one of over 55 projects currently staffed by volunteers. The group has contributed over 160,000 hours of volunteer service over its existence.

Q: What advice do you have for Texas Stream Team citizen scientists?

For any folks looking to find testing sites in their area, the Texas Stream Team Datamap is a great resource to see what existing and past monitoring sites exist, and where there may be opportunities for testing. By reviewing that map, we saw the previous sites at El Rancho Cima and Plum Creek and asked to start testing there again.


Back to the September 2021 Waterways Newsletter >>