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Clean Rivers Program Special Studies and Projects, and Scientific Research Portal

This page provides information on special studies and projects (both ongoing and completed) in which CRP has lead or assisted. In addition, you can find find out what kinds of scientific research projects have been and are being conducted by other entities throughout the Rio Grande Basin. Lastly, you can download the CRP GIS data and find links for other GIS resources.


Special Studies/Projects Reports

Upper Rio Grande

El Paso Community College (EPCC) Service Learning Program Cooperating Entity, 2010-2013. USIBWC CRP is collaborating with EPCC to create hands-on learning experiences for science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) students by providing opportunities such as water quality monitoring, outreach presentations, the creation of watershed education materials, and river cleanups through USIBWC's Adopt-A-River Program. This 3 year project with include training for faculty on integrating the experiences into the classroom to meet curriculum objectives.
Metals in water, 2012. USIBWC CRP will sample Mercury at about a dozen stations from the Forgotten Stretch through Big Bend area. Metals data will be posted on our website on a continuous basis.
Bacteria, 2010. The Paso del Norte Watershed Council (PdNWC) is receiving 319(h) grant funding from EPA and New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) to develop a Watershed Restoration Action Strategy (WRAS) to address a bacteria impairment in the Lower Rio Grande of New Mexico. The efforts to address bacteria contamination by PdNWC are unique because they cross jurisdictional boundaries. This section of the Rio Grande weaves in and out of Texas and New Mexico for about 16 miles, and Texas segment 2314, which overlaps with 3 New Mexico assessment units throughout this 16-mile stretch, is also impaired for bacteria. USIBWC CRP will support the monitoring efforts and provide assistance for the WRAS. More information can be found at the PdNWC website.
Biological control of saltcedar, 2007-2011. The US Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) has been studying means of controlling the aggressive, exotic saltcedar (tamarix) by introducing a biological control agent, the Diorhabda spp. beetle. IBWC has participated in binational discussions of the transboundary affects of the biological control projects.
Bacteria Source Tracking, 2000-2012. El Paso Community College and its Research Initiative for Scientific Enhancement (RISE) program have been collecting water samples with IBWC Clean Rivers Program for many years for ongoing research, including bacteria source tracking and other pathogen analaysis.

Big Bend Area

Metals in water, 2012. See Upper RG.
Salinity and nutrients, 2005-2009.
Diminished flow, high salinity and the occurrence and distribution of nutrients in the Rio Grande from Presidio to Amistad Reservoir have been indirectly implicated in the development of toxic algal blooms.  Objectives of the study included: quantifying flow, characterizing salinity and nutrient concentrations, determine possible nutrient loading sources, and develop recommendations for long-term monitoring. USGS, the National Park Service, IBWC, TCEQ, and Mexican agencies collaborated on the research and a report should be made available in 2010. View the scope of work.
Mine Tailings, 2002. USGS, TCEQ, IBWC, and Mexican agencies participated in a study of historic mercury, silver, lead and gold mines upstream of and within Big Bend National Park. Draining from the mines was a suspected source of contaminants affecting the quality of the Rio Grande in the area. Sediment and water samples were collected from the Rio Grande (above and below tributary confluences) and from tributaries identified as transporters of mine runoff. The 2009 USGS report of the study discusses the results of samples that showed elevated concentrations of trace elements and metals, some exceeding TCEQ standards.

Middle Rio Grande

Laredo Bacteria, 2010-2011. A new project in its conceptual stage is to identify bacteria sources in Laredo/Nuevo Laredo, where bacteria continues to be a significant problem. View the Study Sampling Plan and QAPP. Sampling was conducted May 19-20, 2011, and a second sampling event is scheduled for August 15, 2011. Results will be presented at the October Dia del Rio events in Laredo and a video will be posted on this website in late summer 2011. View LareDOS news article about the study. The final draft of the report was finalized in December 2012 and is now available to the public.

newClick here for the FINAL REPORT, Bacteria Characterization in Segment 2304 near Laredo, TX/Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas.
Manadas Creek Metals, 2004-2008. Texas A&M University – Kingsville with cooperation from USIBWC CRP and Rio Grande International Study Center (RGISC) completed an assessment of nutrient and heavy metals in Manadas Creek, a tributary of the Rio Grande, and its potential impacts to the Rio Grande in Laredo, TX. The study showed that the heavy metals arsenic and antimony exceeded state water quality standards and that phosphorus values were also periodically higher than the water quality standards. Impacts to the river were measured in the Rio Grande relatively far from the confluence. At those sites, the nutrient and metals contamination in Manadas Creek were not present. Journal Article: "Assessment of Organochlorine Pesticide Levels in Manadas Creek, an Urban Tributary of the Rio Grande in Laredo, Texas," B. Flores, C. Camarena, J. Ren, S. Krishnamurthy, W. Belzer, Arch Environ Contam Toxicol. Sept. 2008.
Laredo-Nuevo Laredo Study, 2000 Binational Study Regarding the Intensive Monitoring of the Rio Grande Waters in the Vicinity of Laredo, Texas and Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas Between the United States and Mexico November 6-16, 2000. In November 2000, the International Boundary and Water Commission, United States and Mexico (IBWC), along with other federal and state agencies, collected seven sets of water quality samples in the Rio Grande along the Laredo/Nuevo Laredo reach to determine the ambient water quality during low flow conditions. The objectives of the study were to: 1) make a comparative analysis of water quality conditions in the Rio Grande; 2) enhance permanent water quality programs and, 3) measure the beneficial water quality effects of the Nuevo Laredo International Treatment Plant in the river. View the Final Report, October 2002.

Lower Rio Grande

Bacteria, 2010. USIBWC CRP is working with the University of Texas at Brownsville to conduct a special study to identify the source of and characterize the bacteria impairment in Segment 2302_07 in the Brownsville area of the Lower Rio Grande. The project’s Quality Assurance plan has been approved and the intensive monitoring was conducted March 8 and April 26, 2010. A report will be out by fall 2010. Scope of Work and QA plan is Appendix F on the FY10 QAPP. You can also see a video of the sampling events on our gallery. Click here for the FINAL REPORT, Bacteria Characterization in Segment 2302_01 of the Rio Grande Near Brownsville, TX.

Pecos River

Aquatic Life Monitoring for the Upper Pecos, 2010-2011. TCEQ is conducting aquatic life monitoring at 4 stations in the Upper Pecos during low flow period when releases from Red Bluff have stopped during the winter. This study will analyze fish and macroinvertebrates at the same stations as the previous aquatic studies conducted in this stretch of the Pecos. View the Exective Summary of the sampling plan.
Salinity, 2008-2010. The CRP is assisting in a multi-year special study on the Pecos River to evaluate salinity with TCEQ, Texas Water Development Board, Texas A&M, and Texas AgriLife. TCEQ is collecting data on a monthly basis, and report will be made available in the next year.
Watershed Protection Plan, 2006-2015. Another special project on the Pecos is the Pecos Watershed Protection Plan led by TWRI, AgriLife, EPA, and other organizations. The watershed protection plan creates a management plan for the Pecos River region. For more information please visit the Pecos River Basin Assessment Program.
Pecos Aquatic Life and Habitat Inventory Assessment. June 2006. The U.S. Section International Boundary and Water Commission (USIBWC) Clean Rivers Program (CRP) coordinated a biological assessment with assistance from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) in the upper Pecos and with the United State Geological Survey (USGS) in the lower Pecos. Sites were selected along the Pecos River in Texas for assessment of biological condition. At those sites, data on benthic macroinvertebrate organisms, fish, and physical habitat characteristics of the river were collected and catalogued according to protocols previously published by the TCEQ. View the Final Report
Pecos Aquatic Life Use Study, 1999-2000. CRP and TCEQ Region 7 collected fish and benthic macroinvertebrates Station 13265, Pecos River at FM 652 bridge northeast of the town of Orla. Data collections took place in October 1999 and February 2000. Habitat and water quality were assessed to evaluate their relationship to community structure. The objective of this study was to assess fish and benthic macroinvertebrate communities in relation to habitat and water quality in the Pecos River near Orla, Texas. This site heavily influenced by wide ranging flow events that occur as a result of periodic releases
from Red Bluff Reservoir. These releases coincide with the spring and summer irrigation needs downstream. View the Final 2000 Report

Basin-wide studies in the Rio Grande Basin

USIBWC CRP Rio Grande Organic Chemical Study, 2007 – 2010. USIBWC CRP has been collecting data on organics in sediment for 4 years. The data shows that most organic chemicals we analyzed for were not detected at most stations. Common exceptions include DDT and its derivative DDE, which persist in the environment for long periods of time, and were detected at several stations. View the Data or read a summary of the project and parameters tested.
TCEQ Least Disturbed Streams Study, 2010-2012. TCEQ Surface Water Quality Monitoring Program, TCEQ Regional Staff, and TPWD, along with participating entities, will conduct a study of the next several years to evaluate the biological condition of least disturbed streams in ecoregions throughout Texas. Goals of the study are: 1) Determine if small unclassified streams could support significant aquatic life uses; 2) Determine if regional patterns in physical, chemical or biological attributes of streams exist in TX; 3) Refine and verify Texas Ecoregion boundaries; 4) Develop procedures for assessing aquatic life uses in Texas streams. CRP will assist in some of the field work for the streams in the Rio Grande Basin that are included in this study. The Rio Grande Basin streams that will be studied include: Mud Creek, Las Moras Creek, Pinto Creek, Sycamore Creek in the Middle Rio Grande, and in the Upper Rio Grande/Pecos sub-basin includes: the Wild and Scenic river in Segment 2306, Alamito Creek, Devils River, Live Oak Creek, Independence Creek. View the draft plan, Executive Summary.

Rio Grande Toxic Substances binational studies

  • 1992: Binational Study Regarding the Presence of Toxic Substances in the Rio Grande/Rio Bravo and its Tributaries along the Boundary Portion between the United States and Mexico (Final Report, September 1994) English Version
  • Second Phase of the Binational Study Regarding the Presence of Toxic Substances in the Rio Grande/Rio Bravo and its Tributaries along the Boundary Portion between the United States and Mexico (Final Report, Vol I of II, April 1998) English Version
  • Second Phase of the Binational Study Regarding the Presence of Toxic Substances in the Rio Grande/Rio Bravo and its Tributaries along the Boundary Portion between the United States and Mexico(Final Report, Vol II of II, September 1999) English Version
  • Segunda Fase del Estudio Binacional Sobre la Presencia de Sustancias Tóxicas en el Río Bravo/Río Grande y sus Afluentes, en su Porción Fronteriza Entre México y Estados Unidos (Informe Final, Vol I of II, April 1998) Versión en Español
  • Third Phase of the Binational Study Regarding the Presence of Toxic Substances in the Upper Portion of the Rio Grande/Rio Bravo Between the U.S. and Mexico (Final Report, June 2004) English Version


USIBWC CRP Bibliography of Rio Grande Research

Download the draft Bibliographic Database of books, reports, articles and other documents on Rio Grande Research. (ZIP file, Version June 2009)

Other online Resources



Other online Resources

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