Improving Water Quality of Grazing Lands

Grazing lands are the dominant land use throughout most of Texas. Until recently, little attention was paid in Texas to the effect that livestock grazing on these lands may have on water quality. Bacteria source tracking conducted as a part of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality's Total Maximum Daily Load program has recently identified cattle as significant contributors of excessive bacteria in several impaired water bodies. Texas has now initiated a major effort to improve the management of grazing lands to reduce nonpoint source pollution.

Download a fact sheet about this program

With an increasing focus on more holistic watershed management, three projects, the Lone Star Healthy Streams, Environmental Management of Grazing Lands and Bacteria Runoff Best Management Practices (BMPs) for Intensive Beef Cattle Operations, are expanding the overall knowledge of beef cattle producers regarding watershed management and measures for reducing bacteria contamination of streams. These projects are a partnership among federal and state natural resource agencies and industry groups.

Project cooperators are testing the effectiveness of a variety of BMPs. Based on this evaluation of BMPs, personnel will develop and test an educational program through Lone Star Healthy Streams. After the pilot program, the Lone Star Healthy Streams program will be delivered statewide to needed areas.

Implementation of watershed management principles and practices on grazing lands are critical to the success of water resource protection efforts in the state for years to come.


  • Evaluate and demonstrate the effectiveness of value-added BMPs in reducing bacterial contamination
  • Develop educational curriculum that provides production and environmental management training concerning grazing lands in association with watersheds
  • Test and modify education program based on results of pilot program
  • Promote statewide adoption of appropriate grazing land management practices


  • Developed project Web site:
  • Initiated grazing management evaluation at Welder Wildlife Refuge and Riesel
  • Began alternative water evaluation at 2S Ranch near Lockhart, TX


  • Texas Water Resources Institute, Texas A&M AgriLife
  • Texas AgriLife Extension Service
  • Texas AgriLife Research
  • USDA Agricultural Research Service
  • Welder Wildlife Refuge

Funding Agencies

  • Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board
  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
  • USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service
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