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Polk County Enterprise - Local News

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You know it’s dry when fish have ticks


Contributing Editor

COLDSPRING — If you think it’s dry, try being a fish during the drought, said a Texas AgriLife Extension Service expert. “You know it’s dry when your fish have ticks,” joked Dr. Billy Higginbotham, AgriLife Extension wildlife and fisheries specialist. Jokes aside, it’s a serious matter as water levels drop for the owners of the more than a million private water impoundments in Texas, Higginbotham said. Channel catfish, bluegill and largemouth bass must survive both a shrinking habitat and dropping water-oxygen levels. O n Saturday, July 30, beginning at 9 a.m. in Coldspring, AgriLife Extension Water Resources Specialist Dr. Diane Boelistorff will present a program on water issues that most are facing in San Jacinto County. “No one is exempt from the lack of water. Livestock producers are severely culling herds or de-populating due to no other apparently available choices. Forage producers have their own decisions to ponder; tractor notes are due if the grass is growing or not. Homeowners are battling fire ants, fleas and other unwanted critters that are looking for any form of moisture. Home gardens and landscaping is suffering due to no water or water at the wrong time resulting in fungal problems with the plants,” said San Jacinto County Extension Agent Aaron Sumrall who is hosting the program. “This program will address topics such as water rights, water laws, rainwater harvesting water conservation practices. The program will provide ample information in order for participants to identify additional choices they may have and what to do to better their situation,” Sumrall said. According to a report by the Texas Water Development Board, only one reservoir out of 109 lakes being monitored across the state is full and that is Lake Livingston. The 109 lakes are 73 percent full, down 13 percent from a year ago, the report indicates. Of the 109 lakes monitored for the report, just 41 were at 85 percent capacity or fuller. Statewide, this past June was the hottest on record and Louisiana, New Mexico and Texas recorded their driest first six months on record, according to the National Weather Service. “It’s hot and dry even by Texas standards, but the ponds that show the problem first and foremost are those that have either very small watersheds or those ponds that were built on marginal soil,” he said. A small watershed means there is not a large enough area surrounding the pond for sufficient runoff to maintain water levels, even during years with average rainfall, Higginbotham explained. To hold that runoff, the soil the pond is situated in should contain enough clay. “These are important construction concepts for landowners to remember whether they are watering livestock or if fish are an important recreation use of that pond,” he said. “Fish remain a primary concern to many owners of small ponds, and there are more than a million private impoundments found statewide.” According to Sumrall, pond issues along with many other watering issues will be covered during the July 30 program. Fee for the event will be $25 and lunch will be provided at the program. “Call for the location and to RSVP at 936-628-6407. The program will be limited to the first 50 to RSVP,” Sumrall said.


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