Houston Area TMDLs: Watershed Planning on a Grand Scale


Jan. 25, 2007


Stein, R

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Galveston Bay Estuary Program


The watersheds for six current TMDL projects include almost all of the Houston Metropolitan area from Dickinson Bayou on the south to Spring Creek and the West Fork of the San Jacinto River on the north. TMDL projects are being conducted on surface water bodies that are on the 303(d) list for bacteria, dioxin, and dissolved oxygen. The purpose of these projects is to establish the TMDL load allocations (limits) for the pollutants responsible for listing them as impaired. These projects are in various stages of development of the TMDL allocations. Bacteria impairments are being addressed in the watersheds of Buffalo and Whiteoak Bayous, Dickinson Bayou, Clear Creek Bayou, Sims Bayou, Brays Bayou, Hunting Bayou, Halls Bayou, Greens Bayou, Houston Ship Channel/Buffalo Bayou Tidal, Houston Ship Channel Tidal, Spring Creek, Cypress Creek, and the West Fork of the San Jacinto River. Dioxin impairments are being addressed in the watershed of the San Jacinto River below Lake Houston. Following the adoption of the TMDLs for these projects, Implementation Plans will be developed to reduce pollutant loads in each of the watersheds. The Implementation Plans are stakeholder developed pollution reduction plans for the affected watersheds. These are watershed plans developed by the stakeholders through a committee process that focuses on the different pollutant sources. For each watershed, work groups will be formed to focus on specific sources of the pollutant and develop a strategy to reduce the load from that source. In addition to strategies to reduce loads, a monitoring program will be developed to assess progress in improving water quality. All of the strategies developed by the work groups will be assembled into an Implementation Plan that will be presented to the TCEQ Commissioners for approval. Citizens and organizations within the watersheds have the opportunity to participate in the development of these plans and to contribute to improving water quality. Considering the extent of watersheds included in the TMDLs, generally everybody living in the Houston Metropolitan area will have the opportunity to contribute to improving water quality throughout the area and ultimately in Galveston Bay.




bacteria, dioxin, dissolved oxygen, implementation plan, regulation, surface water, TMDL, total maximum daily load, water quality