Nolan Creek is a popular Belton destination for recreation in, around, and on the water. Its headwaters are a series of springs located in the Fort Hood area. Outflow from wastewater treatment plants in Killeen and Harker Heights also contribute to the overall water flow of the stream. Nolan Creek is also the primary drainage area for the U.S. 190 corridor.
WatershedRainfall within the Nolan Creek watershed can cause rapid increases in water elevation. This is because the creek is narrow and drains a large basin. Even a small increase in water elevation can create dangerous conditions, so it is recommended that people stay out of the water and away from the edge of the bank when the stream is swollen. As a general rule, when the water is clear it is at normal current, and thus safer for recreation activities.
In the past, periods of extended heavy rainfall have resulted in flooding along Nolan Creek. In response to concerns from residents and business owners following a 2010 flood, the City of Belton partnered with Killeen, Harker Heights, Nolanville, and Bell County to install rain and stream elevation monitors at locations along the creek. The City uses this early flood warning system to monitor stream elevation during rain events. The public may also access the site.
Additional flood mitigation efforts included removing two low-water crossings in the Downtown Belton area.
In 2015, limestone drops were added to five areas of the creek from Harris Park to what is now Liberty Park to enhance the experience for those who desire safer access or to kayak, tube, or fish the creek. In addition, in 2016, a put-in location for tubes and kayaks was added near the Martin Luther King Jr. bridge. Parking is available at the Nolan Creek Nature Trail near the MLK bridge and at Liberty Park.
Water QualityElevated bacteria levels upstream have resulted in Nolan Creek being rated as a Secondary Contact Recreation 1 waterway, according to Texas Surface Water Quality Standards. Activities associated with secondary contact include fishing, kayaking, and tubing. In general, secondary contact activities limit the risk of water ingestion. The most common side effect from ingesting water with elevated bacteria levels is upset stomach.
Swimming and wading by children are primary contact activities that are not recommended in Nolan Creek, according to state standards, but people are free to choose their own level of recreation in the creek. In general, the City will not interfere with those who choose to swim in the creek unless there is an immediate safety concern, such as rapidly increasing elevation upstream. Signs are in place advising personal responsibility and directing people to this page for additional information.
Water Quality Testing
The Brazos River Authority performs quarterly water quality tests upstream from Belton. The results are located on its Clean Rivers Program website.
Under Search Criteria, Stream Segment, select 1218 -- Nolan Creek
Under Parameters, select Bacteriological and hit Get Data
This produces a report of all bacteria data for site 11907 located on South Nolan Creek at US 190 downstream from Nolanville about 11 miles upstream of Yettie Polk Park in Belton.
TCEQ has historically collected data at station 14237 located in Yettie Polk Park in Belton. This data may be accessed from TCEQ's database.
Additional Nolan Creek water quality information, including information about partnerships formed to protect Nolan Creek, is available through the Texas Institute for Applied Environmental Research based at Tarleton State University.
The City of Belton does not test for water quality.