What is the Cypress Creek Watershed Protection Plan?

The Cypress Creek Watershed Protection Plan is a proactive plan that addresses likely future nonpoint source pollution impairments of nitrogen and Total Suspended Solids . It will focus on surface water quality, the importance of properly managing the source groundwater in this Watershed Protection Plan. Accordingly, the plan incorporates groundwater and surface water components, spans agency jurisdictions, and is comprehensive in its approach for maintaining balance between natural resource management and economic development. 

The community-approved Cypress Creek Watershed Protection Plan (WPP) is an important tool that can be used by the region’s leaders to help manage the Cypress Creek Watershed. The plan has broad-range support among the key governmental entities and local non-governmental organizations, has its basis in science, community involvement, and is adaptive in nature. 

The WPP includes a suite of best management practices (BMPs) to mitigate current and future potential water quality impairments. BMPs were prioritized for immediate implementation, while others will be implemented over a number of years, as needed. The community seeks to implement the plan through demonstration best management practices from which they will learn what methods provide the most water quality benefits.

The Stakeholder Committee also integrated an initial source water protection strategy with the goal to keep Cypress Creek flowing. Given that the quality of the water in the Creek is highly dependent on ensuring sufficient source groundwater flows, preservation of flows from Jacob’s Well is a major component of this Watershed Protection Plan.

The resulting Cypress Creek Watershed Protection Plan presented here is meant to help guide decision makers and citizens to keep Cypress Creek clean, clear, and flowing for future generations.

What implementing the plan looks like

  • Monitoring and data collection will track water quality and better understand nonpoint source contributions to Cypress Creek 
  • Building upon existing models will create increase understanding to better estimate peak flows for individual drainage areas 
  • Creating a comprehensive storm-water management plan
  • Installing site specific BMPs will serve as demonstration projects on their effectiveness, including preventative, storm-water and low impact development (LID) measures (storm-water controls, rainwater capture, rain gardens, and bio-filtration systems)
  • Completing educational materials and resources for government officials, citizens and developers 
  • Expanding local education and outreach activities aimed at water quality degradation prevention
  • Improving the reliability and enhancing the capability of the Cypress Creek Decision Support System to calculate potential water quality impacts of site scale development
  • Reviewing existing ordinances to assist the cities and county in quantifying their effectiveness on maintaining water quality
  • Support for process to fast track development proposals incorporating LID and green infrastructure


This plan is significant because of its proactive nature, its engaged citizenry, inclusion of source groundwater for a complete hydrologic picture, and the implications for other potentially impaired watersheds in central Texas.


Why was the plan initiated?

 The Cypress Creek Project was initiated when concerned landowners, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and the Meadows Center for Water and the Environment (Meadows Center) applied for state and federal 319 funds to develop a preventative and community-driven watershed protection plan (WPP) for Cypress Creek (Figure 1). The goal was to keep Cypress Creek from being listed as impaired on the 303(d) list, as it had been in 2000 for inadequate dissolved oxygen (DO) (segment 1815). That year, the creek stopped flowing due to drought conditions, which negatively affected DO. When precipitation returned to average levels, the segment was delisted.


 Overall, water quality in Cypress Creek is meeting standards set by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. However, the Creek has shown signs of water quality degradation in the recent past and data have revealed that there is a potential for degradation in the future if nothing is done now. Data reveal both spatial and temporal trends that may be due to climate variability, nonpoint source pollution, and changes in land use and/or management at the sub watershed level 

Water quality in streams can directly affect water quality in the aquifer because of rapid recharge through karst features, such as fractures and sinkholes in streambeds. The reverse is also true where springs contribute to river flows. The health of the creek is highly dependent on maintaining adequate spring flows, making recharge and groundwater management in the larger region critical to maintaining a healthy system in Cypress Creek.

The Watershed Protection Plan is intended to be a living document, and may be adjusted to include new data and modified as conditions in the watershed change over time. It will evolve as needs and circumstances dictate and will be guided by the Stakeholder Committee as they undertake active stewardship of the watershed.