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Lake O' the Pines: Implementing a Plan to Protect Aquatic Life

A current project to improve conditions for aquatic life by increasing dissolved oxgen levels in the lake. Together, the adopted TMDLs and approved I-Plan are the road map to improved water quality.
photo of Lake O' the Pines
Lake O’ the Pines

Watershed Counties: Cass, Harrison, Marion, Morris, Upshur
Parameter: Dissolved oxygen
River Basin: Cypress Creek
Segment: 0403

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Overview of the Project

Lake O’ the Pines and Big Cypress Creek (its primary tributary) are located in the Cypress Creek Basin. Lake O’ the Pines provides water for eight cities and towns, numerous rural water districts, and several steel manufacturers and electricity generators. The lake is also an important resource to the timber industry and to agricultural enterprises such as the poultry industry, dairies, and cattle operations, and for irrigation. Boating and fishing for trophy bass, catfish, and crappie lure large numbers of recreational users to the watershed each year.

In 2000, the TCEQ found that dissolved oxygen levels in Lake O’ the Pines were less than optimal for supporting fish and other aquatic species. Oxygen, which dissolves in water, is essential for the survival of aquatic life. While the amount of dissolved oxygen in water fluctuates naturally, human activities can cause unusually or chronically low dissolved oxygen levels.

The TCEQ adopted a total maximum daily load (TMDL) in 2006 that shows by how much we must reduce pollutants that use up oxygen. Stakeholders developed an Implementation Plan, through which they are working to improve conditions in the lake.

The original implementation plan (2008) underwent a thorough review by watershed stakeholders. In 2014, the stakeholders prepared a revised implementation plan to continue their efforts in improving local water quality.

Learn more about the state’s program for managing water quality by reading Preserving and Improving Water Quality.

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Get Involved

The TCEQ is working to implement the I-Plan with the Northeast Texas Municipal Water District Exit the TCEQ and its steering committee for the Clean Rivers Program. The steering committee includes representatives from state and federal agencies, cities, industries, citizen groups, local governments, universities, water districts, agriculture groups, and other water user groups.

The steering committee also advised the TCEQ on development of the TMDL, and then built the I-Plan.

Texas Water Resources Institute (TWRI) coordinated stakeholder involvement in a review of the I-Plan and its progress.

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

Updated Information Texas Watershed Steward Training

This free workshop related to the Lake O' the Pines and Big Cypress watersheds will be held:

October 4, 2016
8:00 a.m. to noon
Jefferson Tourism and Visitors' Center
305 East Austin Street
Jefferson 75657

Participants are encouraged to preregister at the Texas Watershed Steward website. Exit the TCEQ

The training will include an overview of water quality and watershed management in Texas, but will primarily focus on area water quality issues, including current and future efforts to help improve and protect the Lake O' the Pines and Big Cypress watersheds. It also will include a discussion of watershed systems, types and sources of water pollution, and ways to improve and protect water quality. Additionally, there will be group discussion on community-driven watershed protection and management.

The program offers four continuing education units in soil and water management for certified crop advisers, four units for professional engineers and certified planners, four credits for certified teachers and two credits for nutrient management specialists. A total of four professional development hours are available for professional geoscientists licensed by the Texas Board of Professional Geoscientists.

There are also three general continuing education units for Texas Department of Agriculture pesticide license holders, four for certified landscape architects, and three for certified floodplain managers. Four continuing education credits are offered for each of the following Texas Commission on Environmental Quality occupational licensees: wastewater system operators, public water system operators, on-site sewage facility installers and landscape irrigators.

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The organizations listed below are members of the Coordination Committee for improving the water quality in Lake O’ the Pines. All of the links in this section exit the TCEQ website Exit the TCEQ .

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Contact Us

Please e-mail us at, and mention the Lake O’ the Pines TMDL project in the subject line. Or call us at 512-239-6682.

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