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Dickinson Bayou: Meeting the Requirements for a Watershed-Based Plan

A grant-supported project that supplemented the existing total maximum daily load implementation plan (TMDL I-Plan) and a draft watershed protection plan (WPP) for Dickinson Bayou by developing a document to bridge differences in the TMDL I-Plan and draft WPP from the federal requirements for a watershed protection plan (WPP).


Dickinson Bayou has consistently failed to meet criteria for concentrations of bacteria and dissolved oxygen in the Texas Water Quality Standards, leading to impairment of the bayou's uses for contact recreation and support of aquatic life. To address the impairment of the contact recreation use, stakeholders and TCEQ created the following documents:

  • A draft WPP
  • TMDLs to quantify bacteria reductions needed to meet the standards
  • A TMDL I-Plan to reduce bacteria in the bayou
  • A technical report that provided scientific information to support TMDL development

However, the combined four documents listed above did not meet all the federal requirements for the stakeholders to receive funding for their WPP under the Section 319 grant program established in the federal Clean Water Act. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) specifies the elements that must be included in a WPP that is eligible for funding.

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Project Description

Through this project, TCEQ and stakeholders created a "bridge document" to supplement and link the draft WPP and the TMDL I-Plan to meet EPA's funding criteria. This "bridge" provided the necessary analytical framework for evaluating water quality conditions and implementing measures to address the bacteria impairments. However, EPA did not approve the final bridge document because the combined plans did not meet the EPA requirement that WPPs address all of the impairments within a water body; in this case, both bacteria and dissolved oxygen concentrations.

The project final report noted that recovery efforts after major storms like Hurricanes Harvey and Ike, which occurred during this project period, provided new opportunities for habitat restoration, incorporation of green infrastructure, and better backup features to prevent inundation and overflows of wastewater systems.

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For More Information

To find out more about the Nonpoint Source Program, call 512-239-6682 or e-mail us at

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