The Shoal Creek Watershed Action Plan is a community-guided planning effort to define solutions to the watershed’s numerous, interconnected, water-related challenges.
Shoal Creek Conservancy is leading a coalition of public and private partners, including the City of Austin Watershed Protection Department, the Meadows Center for Water and the Environment and other local community organizations and citizens, to develop and implement solutions to these pressing issues through a Watershed Action Plan.
After 2 years of stakeholder discussions, data acquisition from partners and careful consideration of future improvement projects, a draft Watershed Action Plan has been developed. You can view the Shoal Creek Watershed Action Plan. This draft was submitted to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality for approval in Spring 2020 and will be sent to the Environmental Protection Agency this summer for acceptance.
Do you live or work in the Shoal Creek Watershed or share an interest in protecting and restoring the creek? Then, you are a Shoal Creek Stakeholder!
The Shoal Creek Watershed Action Plan Steering Committee will meet quarterly to review the progress that’s being made towards the stakeholder-defined goals for Shoal Creek. These meetings are open to the public as well. If you’d like to learn more, find upcoming meeting dates here or on the Events page.
Upcoming Meetings Schedule & Materials
Understanding Shoal Creek
The highly urban character of the Shoal Creek Watershed presents special challenges and requires a multifaceted approach to addressing water-related issues. Increases in population density and the amount of impervious cover result in more frequent flooding, degradation of water quality, and loss of habitat and safe recreation areas. Although the Shoal Creek Watershed is only 13 square miles, its population is expected to reach over 78,000 by the year 2030 and 53% of the watershed is already surfaced in impervious cover. Moreover, the bulk of development in the Shoal Creek Watershed took place before the adoption of environmental protection regulations. Fifty-six percent of development in the watershed was built before the adoption of drainage regulations in 1974, and 71% was constructed before the adoption of water quality regulations in 1991. Finally, the watershed is slated for increased density and further redevelopment in the years to come, as the City of Austin overhauls its Land Development Code. View map of the watershed.
Water Quality: Once home to popular swimming and fishing destinations, the Creek suffers from poor water quality, including elevated fecal bacteria and nutrient levels. With impervious cover causing rapid stormwater runoff into Shoal Creek, nonpoint source pollution is a major challenge for the Shoal Creek Watershed. Human and canine fecal matter, fertilizer, sediment from erosion and construction sites, oil, grease, and other types of urban runoff all contribute to Shoal Creek’s pollution issue.
Flooding: The Shoal Creek Watershed is one of the City’s highest priorities for controlling and mitigating floods. In 1981, flooding killed 13 people and resulted in $35 million in damages. Several large floods, most notably in 1960, 1981, 2001 and 2013, have caused millions of dollars in damages to local businesses and homes. On Memorial Day weekend in 2015, rainstorms caused flow in the creek to grow from its average of 90 gallons per minute to 6 million gallons per minute. Flood waters again inundated roads, homes and businesses and necessitated dozens of rescues. Read this blog post to learn more about Shoal Creek flooding and how to stay safe during and after a flood.
Erosion & Habitat Loss: Because the watershed is highly developed, stormwater flows quickly over the landscape, and in addition to carrying pollutants, causes significant erosion and destabilization of creek and tributary banks. Erosion is one of the primary causes of native habitat loss on Shoal Creek. Sediment also worsens water quality conditions, limits recreation and creates safety hazards. According to a citywide inventory of citizen-reported erosion sites, the Shoal Creek Watershed accounts for 14% of the erosion site problem scores, the largest portion of total scores represented by any single watershed.
Groundwater & Spring Flow: The Shoal Creek Watershed is home to numerous springs that suffer from reduced flow or have ceased flowing altogether. Diminished spring flow poses a serious threat to both the watershed’s overall ecosystem as well as regional water supply. Three and a half square miles of the Shoal Creek Watershed recharge the Edwards Aquifer, which provides drinking water to many Central Texas residents and sustains native Hill Country habitats. Reduced flows can exacerbate the effects of pollution, impacting the quality of water in the creek for wildlife, recreation and ultimately drinking water. Spring flows also provide critical instream flows for local and regional species.
Subscribe to the Watershed Stakeholder Newsletter
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This cooperative project is funded in part by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) through a United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) grant.
You too can help support this project by making a donation to Shoal Creek Conservancy today.
Technical & Historical Resources
- Shoal Creek Watershed Action Plan Modeling Report
- Shoal Creek Watershed Characterization Report – August 2019
- 2019 Shoal Creek Watershed PSAs Press Release
- 2017 Watershed Action Plan partnership press release
- 2018 Shoal Creek Watershed #StewardsForShoal Campaign Press Release
- Shoal Creek Watershed Protection Plan Scoping and Fundraising Strategies Report
- What Challenges does Shoal Creek Face?
- Shoal Creek Watershed Map, 2017
- North Urban Watershed Profile, City of Austin 2016
- City + Water Showcase – Shoal Creek Conservancy
- Shoal Creek Forum Series Presentations – Shoal Creek Conservancy & City of Austin
- Austin Youth River Watch Test Site Data 34th & Shoal Creek
- USGS Shoal Creek Gauge at Silverway Drive
- USGS Shoal Creek Gauge at 12th Street
- USGS Shoal Creek Peak Streamflow Data
- Shoal Creek Watershed Summary Sheet, Environmental Integrity Index
- City of Austin Watershed Summary Report 2011-2012
- City of Austin Spicewood Springs Shoal Creek Tributary TMDL Project 2013
- City of Austin Rain Gardens – Keeping Water on the Land Webpage
- City of Austin Flood Pro, Interactive Floodplain Map
- Shoal Creek Watershed Erosion Assessment 1997
- Water Chemistry of Shoal Creek 1997
- Image of Flood Waters at Shoal Creek 1981, USGS
- Image of Flood Waters at Shoal Creek and West 6th Street, 1915, Portal to Texas History Website
- Image of Flood Water on Shoal Creek and West 4th Street, 1915, The Portal to Texas History Website
- Shoal Creek 15th-28th Restoration Documents
- Storm Drain Marking Volunteer Program – Austin Watershed Protection
- Guide to the Geology of Travis County, Shoal Creek Field Trip, University of Texas at Austin
Current City of Austin Watershed Protection Projects and Studies
- Brentwood Neighborhood Drainage Improvements Study
- Karen and Payne Avenues Channel Stabilization Project
- Shoal Creek Flood Risk Reduction
- Shoal Creek Restoration: 15th-28th Streets
Know of additional resources? Please email us.
Past Meeting Schedule & Materials
May 27th, 1-2pm, Virtual Steering Committee Meeting
- Watershed Action Plan Steering Committee meeting slides
- 5.27 Watershed Action Plan Steering Committee Meeting Agenda
January 22nd, 12pm-1:30pm, House Park Recreation Center (1301 Shoal Creek Blvd, Enrichment Room).
- Watershed Action Plan Steering Committee Meeting Agenda
- Watershed Action Plan Steering Committee slides
December 17th, 11:30am-1pm, House Park Recreation Center (1301 Shoal Creek Blvd, Enrichment Room).
September 25th, 11:30am-1pm, House Park Recreation Center (1301 Shoal Creek Blvd, Enrichment Room).
August 15th, 11:30am-1pm, House Park Recreation Center (1301 Shoal Creek Blvd, Enrichment Room).
July 9th, 11:30am-1pm, House Park Recreation Center (1301 Shoal Creek Blvd, Enrichment Room)
April 24th, 11:30am-1pm, House Park Recreation Center (1301 Shoal Creek Blvd, Enrichment Room)
- Watershed Meeting Drafted Agenda
- Watershed Meeting Slides
- April Meeting Water Working Group
- April Meeting Implementation Notes
- April Meeting Land Stewardship Notes
April 2, 2019 Meeting: This meeting facilitated a third organizational meeting of working groups and went over high-level modeling of the watershed and water flow.
- April 2, 19: Watershed Stakeholder Meeting Draft Agenda
- Draft Modeling Report: 3/19
- Shoal Creek WPP: Timeline and Doc Review Plan
- April 2, 19: WAP Stakeholder Meeting Slides
- Shoal Creek WPP – TOC Outline Draft March 2019
- Watershed Overview
- Bacteria Implementation Plan
- Watershed Characterization Report
January 30, 2019 Meeting: This meeting facilitated a second organizational meeting of working groups and finalized a goals discussion for Watershed Stakeholders.
- January ’19 Draft Watershed Meeting Agenda
- Drafted Watershed Plan Goal Statement
- Working Groups Agenda
- Watershed Action Plan Stakeholder Meeting Slides
- Watershed Partnership Final Report
- Jan 30th Meeting Notes
- Characterization Report Draft
December 5, 2018 Meeting: This meeting facilitated a first organizational meeting of working groups and initiated a goals discussion for Watershed Stakeholders.
- Meeting Schedule
- Revised Public Participation Plan with Steering Committee By Laws
- Stakeholder Comments on the Watershed Characterization Report
October 9, 2018 Meeting: This meeting formally adopted the bylaws, elected officers, and received an update from the City about the Lower Shoal Creek Flood Mitigation Study
- Watershed Characterization_Report_DRAFT
- Watershed Stakeholder Meeting Agenda- October 9, 2018
- Watershed Stakeholder Meeting Presentation – October 9, 2018
- Public Participation Plan with Steering Committee By Laws
August 29, 2018 Meeting: The format of this meeting was a “lunch and learn” focused on the ins and outs of water quality issues and a review of existing biological and water quality data. The draft agenda was as follows: Welcome, introductions & brief project updates led by Joanna Wolaver from SCC, presentation on water quality and biological data led by Mateo Scoggins from COA and then a Q&A focused on the presentation topic, wrap up and overview of next meetings by Joanna.
- Watershed Stakeholder Meeting Agenda – August 29, 2018
- Watershed Meeting Presentation – August 29, 2018
- Watershed Stakeholder Meeting Agenda – July 10, 2018
- Watershed Action Plan Presentation – July 10, 2018
May 19, 2018 Site Visit: The Is Shoal Creek Healthy? Site Visit was held on Saturday, May 19, at 9:00 a.m. at Duncan Park along Shoal Creek. On this walk, stakeholders explored the components of a healthy, clean, and resilient creek, and looked at opportunities for restoring the creek. The site visit was led by City partners, Mateo Scoggins and Darcy Nuffer, with the Watershed Protection Department.
February 13, 2018 Meeting: Thank you to the nearly 80 stakeholders that attended the 1st Shoal Creek Watershed Stakeholder Meeting on Tuesday, February 13 from 12 to 1:30 p.m. at the Cirrus Logic Conference Center. This first meeting included a presentation about Shoal Creek Watershed challenges as well as the basics of watershed planning, the timeline and the stakeholder process. The meeting concluded with small group discussions. Missed the meeting? Please view the Stakeholder Mtg Presentation and let us know how you’d like to get involved by filling out the online questionnaire.
Questions? Please contact us at [email protected].