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Texas Edwards Aquifer Program and Endangered Species Program to Function in Concert
Southwest Region, January 6, 2005
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The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) have recognized their responsibilities for natural resources overlap in some cases regarding water quality and endangered species found in the Edwards Aquifer region. USFWS has determined that new, optional water quality measures which serve as guidance for complying with TCEQ's Edwards Aquifer rules will also serve to protect several of the Federally-listed endangered and threatened species, such as the Barton Springs salamander. This approach to threatened and endangered species management emphasizes a partnership between the Service and TCEQ. The water quality measures will be an option for developers going through the TCEQ authorization process beginning in February. The optional measures include a variation of current ?best management practices? (BMP) performance requirements, which are practices implemented to reduce the impact of developer activities on water quality in and upstream of the aquifer. They also include measures to address stream channel erosion resulting from increased impervious cover, sensitive feature protection practices, guidelines for sealing sensitive features, and methods to improve BMP maintenance documentation. These new measures will be an appendix to the technical guidance document for Edward Aquifer rules issued by the TCEQ. The Endangered Species Act gives protection to those species, and their habitats, that are listed as either threatened or endangered. The Service believes the optional TCEQ measures protect the Barton Springs salamander, San Marcos salamander, Georgetown salamander, San Marcos gambusia, and the fountain darter from adverse water quality impacts. Other species may be added later. Currently, development projects must receive a water quality authorization from the TCEQ, and also demonstrate to the Service that there is no impact to an endangered species in the area of the proposed development. Under the new process, developers that opt to comply with the new TCEQ measures will receive a water quality authorization through the TCEQ, which will be deemed by the Service to comply with endangered species requirements in some cases. Some situations will still warrant direct consultation with the Service, such as those projects requiring a federal permit, those that could impact listed species that are not water quality related, and those that could impact other listed species not covered by the measures, among others. Informational meetings in Austin, San Marcos and San Antonio were held during January to further outline the program.

Contact Info: Martin Valdez, 505-248-6599, martin_valdez@fws.gov



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