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Site Assessment and History

Collaborative Stream Project Site Assessment and History:

By Cece Mercer, Jeff Feng, Kevin Will, Elexis Evans, and Tresa Reynolds


Bishop College Historical Context:


How was the stream used by Bishop College?

  • Flood Control

Future questions to ask former Bishop College administrators or students

  • Who originally owned the land and donated it to Bishop College?
  • How was Bishop College developed?
  • What did the landscape look like prior to development and agriculture?
  • What are some nice amenities (i.e. Green space)?

Aerial maps of Bishop College to be added


Newton Tributary Geography, Location:


The Newton Tributary Creek (Stream) is located in the southern sector of Dallas, Texas and has latitude of 32.6776 and longitude of -96.7356. Newton Creek rises just southwest of Cedar Valley College in Lancaster, Texas. Intermittent in its upper reaches, the creek flows northeasterly for five miles to its mouth on Five Mile Creek, just east of Interstate Highway 45 (at 32°41′ N, 96°44′ W). The area around the creek is heavily wooded, with elm, ash, pecan, red oak, red cedar, cedar elm, and hackberry (TSHA, 2010). One of the interesting things about the creek is that a stand of horsetail club has been discovered near the midpoint of Newton Creek. Horsetail is perennial plant that grows in temperate northern hemisphere areas of Asia, Europe, North America, and North Africa. The plant is typically found in or near watery areas such as marshes, streams, or rivers. This plant is considered to be the most primitive living vascular plant. Interestingly, horsetail is not known to exist anywhere else in Dallas County.


“NEWTON CREEK,” Handbook of Texas Online

(, accessed February 10, 2015. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.



Stream Hydrology:

Water Science Glossary of Terms [Internet]; c2014 [cited 2015 February/8]. Available from: .

  • The Paul Quinn College Creek is a tributary of the Trinity River
  • USGS data specifically provides insight in stream discharge and gage height.
  • Stream discharge, measured in cubic feet per second, is “the volume of water that passes a given location within a given period of time.” (USGS 2014)
  • Gage height, on the other hand, signifies “the height of the water surface above the gage datum (zero point)” (USGS 2014)
  • These two factors are accurate gauges for understanding both the velocity and height at which water flows
  • We cannot control the downstream effects of the Paul Quinn College Creek Restoration
  • PQC Creek first flows into Newton Branch (5 Mile Creek) before transitioning to Trinity River
  • Disturbances in stream discharge and gage height upstream in our restoration site may normalize before entering Trinity River.


















USGS 08057000 Trinity Rv at Dallas, TX     [Internet]; c2015 [cited 2015 February/11]. Available from:


Understanding urban streams


CADDIS Volume 2: Sources, Stressors & Responses [Internet]; c2012 [cited 2015 February/11]. Available from: .


Urbanization has numerous effects on stream ecosystems. In particular, sediment loads increase, erosion is more common, flashiness rises, and the physical habitat is degraded.


  • As the number of impervious surfaces rises, the channel will more likely degrade.


  • The flashiness of a stream increases due to high runoff and eroding of the floodplain.


Wang et al. 2000 JAWRA


  • More impervious surfaces also imply the degradation of species diversity.










Site Assessment:


Our restoration site is on Paul Quinn College’s campus. Prior to Paul Quinn College, Bishop College, a historically black college, resided at this Dallas site from 1961 to 1988 when it closed.


Paul Quinn College is located in a residential area.  One of the tributaries to Newton Branch runs through the surrounding suburban area. The tributary eventually connects to 5-mile creek and then continues into the larger Trinity River. Paul Quinn College is located in the Trinity Watershed. The health of the streams, creeks, and tributaries linked to the river are important to the overall health of the watershed. Map 1 depicts the location of Paul Quinn College in relationship to the community and rivers.


Impervious surfaces decrease the land’s ability to absorb water into the ground.  Parking lots, buildings and roofs that surround the stream are all impervious surfaces, which block the water from infiltrating the ground. When the land does not absorb rainwater naturally, the rapid flow of the water will erode the banks of waterways.


Maps Key:


Earth: Location of Paul Quinn College Map 1 Map 2 Map 3
Shaded in Pink: Impervious Surfaces Map 2
Green Mesh: Park Map 3
Red dots: Stormwater outputs Map 3
Dark pink insect: Insect population Map 3
Light pink beaker: Lack of insects Map 3





Map 1: Depicts the location of Paul Quinn College in relationship to the community and rivers






Map 2: shows the impervious surfaces close to Paul Quinn College that may contribute as on-site stressors





Map 3: Indicates the placement of stormwater outputs which detail the origins of subsurface stressors





  • Inconsistent Water flow


  • Trash pollution in and around the stream


  • Inconsistent Water Levels
  • Broken Pipes
  • Fallen tree branches


  • Debris
  • Unknown underground waterways


  • Erosion
  • Discoloration
  • Dr. Samuel Eguae of Paul Quinn will assist in testing the water, identifying invasive species, and specifying on-site stressors




The Newton Tributary does not flow consistently. The amount of water is dependent on rain, runoff of the day, and the position of the stream that is being observed. When the water levels are low, trash, algae, broken pipes and other debris can be seen in the bottom of the stream; however when levels are higher, tree trunks are submerged in water and the only visible observation is the color of the algae that has covered the floor of the stream. In observing the stream, one could find the strangest things, such as car seats, clay pots, and bricks. There are fallen tree branches that have blocked trash so that some spots of the stream are clean. The first visible opening is covered by trees and can only be found by following the sound of running water. The opening is cavernous and surrounded by debris from what appears to be a construction project. The water runs strongly there, leading to the belief that this is the initial runoff pipe.


Changes in the condition

There are not any direct signs of data showing what the steam looked like previously. After reviewing the current observations, it is easy to spot a few things that have changed. The climate influences the water quality and the stream can reach its tolerance level if it is overheated. The stream’s PH balance has to be off because there has not been any sign of maintenance. The turbidity of the stream has increased, and the stream is continuously eroding. The water in the stream does not flow continuously. The stream is wide which means it will flow much slower than an average water source. Since the stream moves slowly it is more likely to heat quicker which may harm organism longevity.


Why restore PQC Creek?

  • Address symptoms of urban stream syndrome
  • Improve health of the ecosystem
  • Increase Paul Quinn and community engagement with environmental issues
  • Create aesthetic center in community with both environmental and social amenities


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