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Jarbo Bayou: A Community Project to Protect Recreational Uses

A project to reduce bacteria and protect recreational safety in Jarbo Bayou in Galveston County. The stakeholders and the TCEQ are developing total maximum daily loads (TMDLs) and an implementation plan, which together will be the road map for improving water quality.
photo of Jarbo Bayou

Jarbo Bayou

County: Galveston
Parameter: Bacteria
Coastal Basins: Bays and Estuaries
Segment: 2425A

Background and Goals

Jarbo Bayou is a tributary of Clear Lake, located in Galveston County. Since 2002, high concentrations of bacteria, which are found in both human and animal waste, have been observed in the bayou. The presence of these bacteria may indicate a health risk to people who swim or wade in the bayou—activities referred to as “contact recreation” in the Texas Surface Water Quality Standards.

The goal of this project is to improve water quality to protect people who swim in the bayou. Toward that goal, the TCEQ and stakeholders are developing a TMDL and an I-Plan to reduce bacteria in Jarbo Bayou. A TMDL is like a budget—it determines the amount (or load) of bacteria that the bayou can receive and still support recreational safety. Its implementation plan outlines the things stakeholders will do to reduce pollutant loads and what parties will be responsible for those activities.

After careful deliberation, the Coordination Committee petitioned to join the Bacteria Implementation Group (BIG), a well-established project in the region. The BIG voted to accept this petition in September 2015. The BIG's Implementation Plan (I-Plan), which covers an area directly adjacent to the Jarbo Bayou watershed, was approved by the TCEQ in January 2013. Rather than develop a separate plan, Jarbo Bayou and BIG stakeholders will add the Jarbo watershed into the scope of the BIG implementation plan, making sure to add components that address the specific needs of Jarbo Bayou. See information about the status and activities of the BIG's Houston-Galveston Regional I-Plan.

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Get Involved

Staff from the Houston–Galveston Area Council Exit the TCEQ have been working with stakeholder communities, interest groups, and local organizations to distribute information about this project. The H-GAC has also been supporting stakeholders in developing a plan for watershed improvement through multiple public meetings, forming a Coordination Committee to guide the decision-making process, and work group meetings to drive the technical aspects of the project.

Find out more about what it means to participate in TMDL projects.

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Comment on the Total Maximum Daily Load

The public is invited to comment on the proposed TMDL for bacteria in Jarbo Bayou. Community stakeholders worked with the TCEQ to develop the TMDL. The stakeholders plan to join the efforts of the BIG's existing I-Plan for implementing their TMDL.

The TCEQ took public comment on a previous draft TMDL from February 5 through March 7, 2016. A public comment meeting was held on February 25, 2016. The draft currently out for comment includes a new permitted discharger and a change in the TMDL calculation.

Submit Comments in Writing

Written comments must be received at the TCEQ no later than midnight on August 21, 2017, and should reference the One Total Maximum Daily Load for Indicator Bacteria in Jarbo Bayou.

By Mail:
Attn: Ms. Lauren Oertel
Water Quality Planning Division
Texas Commission on Environmental Quality
MC 203
P. O. Box 13087
Austin, Texas, 78711-3087

By Fax:
Attn: Ms. Lauren Oertel

Online at: from July 21, 2017 through August 21, 2017.

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Photo Gallery

Stakeholder Meeting, December 12, 2013




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Contact Us

Please send an e-mail to, and mention the Jarbo Bayou bacteria project in the subject line. Or call us at 512-239-6682.

communities working together taking care of our rivers, lakes, and bays

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