Shoal Creek Conservancy’s goal is to identify creative, cooperative solutions to address Shoal Creek’s challenges and create a resilient, healthy and safe creek through the development of Shoal Creek’s first Watershed Action Plan.

The Shoal Creek Watershed suffers from numerous and interconnected water-related challenges, including devastating flood events, poor water quality, erosion, loss of native habitat, and reduced spring flow. Shoal Creek Conservancy is leading a coalition of public and private groups, including the City of Austin, The Meadows Center for Water and the Environment, and other local community organizations, to develop and implement solutions to these pressing issues through a Watershed Action Plan. Read the press release announcing the partnership. Read the Shoal Creek Watershed Protection Plan Scoping and Fundraising Strategies Report

Planning for the future. Photo by Emily Peacock.

Get Involved!

Stakeholder involvement is an essential component of the Shoal Creek Watershed Action Plan. The intent of this planning process is to be inclusive, open and welcoming to all. Let us know how you’d like to get involved by filling out the online questionnaire.

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.  Come out to our next meeting on December 5th, from 9:30-11:30am. Sign up and more info here.

Join us for an upcoming meeting and join the #Stewards4Shoal Movement! We also invite you to view and share the Shoal Creek Healthy Watershed PSA.

Upcoming Meeting Schedule & Materials

December 5, 2018, 9:30-11:30

Past Meeting Schedule and Materials

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.

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.

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].

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. 

Memorial Day 2015 Flood. Photo by Fox News.

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.

Touring Seiders Springs. Photo by Emily Peacock.

Additional Resources

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.

Thank you!

This cooperative project is funded in part by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) through a United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPAgrant.

You too can help support this project by making a donation to Shoal Creek Conservancy today.