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Surveying Recreational Uses in Texas

A completed project to survey recreational uses of several water bodies Texas
photo of children wading in Gilleland Creek from a bridge

Children wading in Gilleland Creek


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Counties: Newton, Gregg, Hunt, Hopkins, Wood, Rains, Trinity, San Augustine, Wise, Tarrant, Dallas, Johnson, Galveston, Harris, Brazos, Washington, Grimes, Robertson, Leon, Madison, Limestone, Fort Bend, Colorado, Brazoria, Austin, Wharton, Matagorda, Atascosa, Live Oak, Cameron, Hidalgo
Parameter:  Bacteria
Basins: Sabine, Trinity, Brazos, Brazos-Colorado Coastal, Nueces, Nueces-Rio Grande Coastal
Segments:

0502A, 0502B, 0505B, 0505G, 0512A, 0512B, 0806E, 0810, 0810A, 0810B, 0810C, 0810D, 0822A, 0822B, 0838C, 0841E, 0841F, 0841G, 0841H, 0841J, 0841K, 0841N, 0841U, 1104, 1113A, 1209, 1209D, 1209E, 1209G, 1209H, 1209I, 1209J, 1209K, 1244, 1245, 1245C, 1245D, 1302, 1302A, 1305, 2107, 2202

Background and Goals

Texas protects the quality of the state's surface waters to make them safe for recreational uses. Pastimes like swimming, wading, or other activities during which a person might ingest natural waters are referred to as the “contact recreation use” in the state's Standards for water quality. Criteria that are also defined in the Standards are used to evaluate the suitability and safety of streams, lakes, and estuaries for contact recreation.

There are four adopted contact recreation use categories in the Standards:

  • Primary Contact Recreation
  • Non-contact Recreation
  • Secondary Contact Recreation 1
  • Secondary Contact Recreation 2

The secondary uses, which were adopted by the commission in 2010, are under review by the EPA.

For an overview of water quality standards and management, read the TCEQ's publication Preserving and Improving Water Quality.

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Evaluating Appropriate Recreational Uses

Recreational use-attainability analyses (RUAAs) are conducted to determine which of the four recreational use categories is appropriate for a particular water body. The first phase of an RUAA is a survey of existing conditions and uses, during which staff collect:

  1. information on a water body, such as the presence or absence of water recreation activities, stream flow type, stream depth; and
  2. data on physical conditions in a water body that are necessary for completing the analysis.

The TMDL Program surveyed numerous water bodies in Texas from 2009 through 2011 The TCEQ Standards team will complete the second phase, the analysis, and then make recommendations for revising standards to the commission based on the results. The procedures for conducting RUAAs are available on our website.

The surveys for all the segments in this project have been completed. See survey reports on our Web page Recreational Use Attainability Analyses, where you can look up projects within a particular river or coastal basin.

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Public Participation

The TCEQ actively seeks the participation of local stakeholders. Staff informed the public about this project through meetings, and with notices in print and electronic media. All meetings were open to everyone.

The TMDL Program shared the survey plans with the public, and residents had the opportunity to change the plans based on their local knowledge and expertise. 

Several stakeholder meetings were held at locations around the state during the course of this survey project.  

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For More Information

Please e-mail us at tmdl@tceq.texas.gov, and reference the Texas RUAA project in the subject line. Or call Natalie Bell at 512-239-6941.

To ask about status of the use attainability analysis, please visit the Web page Recreational Use Attainability Analyses. You may also e-mail the TCEQ Standards Group or call them at 512-239-6682.

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