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Nutrient Criteria Development

Explanation of the process to develop nutrient criteria for inclusion in a future update to the Texas Surface Water Quality Standards.

Background

Historically, the State of Texas and most other states have not had numerical criteria for nutrients in their surface water quality standards. In Texas, nutrient controls have taken the form of narrative criteria, watershed rules, and antidegradation considerations in permitting actions. TCEQ screens phosphorus, nitrate nitrogen, and chlorophyll monitoring data as a preliminary indication of areas of possible concern for the biennial integrated report on water quality in Texas water bodies.

Numerical nutrient criteria are a potentially useful addition to the water quality standards, and TCEQ has been developing these criteria in coordination with an advisory workgroup and other public participation. In addition, EPA has mandated that states incorporate numerical nutrient criteria in their water quality standards. In June 2010, TCEQ adopted new numerical nutrient criteria for 75 reservoirs based on chlorophyll a concentrations and these new criteria were submitted to EPA for review. Also in June 2010, TCEQ completed new procedures to evaluate and control potential nutrient impacts from proposed wastewater discharge permits.

TCEQ is now conducting additional studies and evaluations to develop potential numerical nutrient criteria for selected streams, rivers, and estuaries in Texas. Numerical criteria for these other types of water bodies will also be developed and considered with extensive public participation.

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Nutrient Criteria Development Plan

On November 27, 2006, the TCEQ sent a revised and expanded version of the "Nutrient Criteria Development Work Plan for the State of Texas," dated November 3, 2006, (PDF | MS Word) to EPA. (Help Downloading Files.) The plan is currently being updated to reflect progress towards nutrient criteria development. Information on the plan revisions and versions are available on the Nutrient Criteria Development Advisory Work Group webpage. Once completed, the plan will be submitted to the EPA by the TCEQ. The current draft of the Plan (PDF) reflects comments received during the public comment period that ended June 22, 2012.

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Status Update

On June 30, 2010, the Commission adopted numerical nutrient criteria for 75 reservoirs. The water bodies are listed in §307.10 (Appendix F) of the 2010 Standards. In addition, the Commission approved screening procedures for nutrients in the revised Procedures to Implement the Texas Surface Water Quality Standards.

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Public Participation

The Nutrient Criteria Development Advisory Work Group has been involved in developing the criteria. For more information about the work group, please e-mail standards@tceq.texas.gov or Julie McEntire at 512/239-6693. You can also contact Ms. McEntire by fax at 512/239-4410 or by postal service at TCEQ, MC-234, PO Box 13087, Austin, Texas 78711-3087.