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Lower Laguna Madre Watershed Protection Plan

A project to develop a Watershed Protection Plan (WPP) for the Lower Laguna Madre and Brownsville Ship Channel.


The Lower Laguna Madre Watershed consists of the coastal watersheds between the Arroyo Colorado and Rio Grande Rivers' watersheds. Most of it drains to the Brownsville Ship Channel and then to the Lower Laguna Madre. High levels of fecal bacteria in several portions of the ship channel and its tributaries have resulted in impairment of (failure to meet Water Quality Standards for) its use for contact recreation. There are also listed concerns for low levels of dissolved oxygen in some of the water bodies, and stakeholders are concerned about the spread of invasive aquatic plants.

A watershed partnership and steering committee formed in 2016 to address water quality issues. The steering committee is pursuing a WPP with assistance from the University of Texas - Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV). The university began characterizing the watershed in 2014 and expects to complete it by August of 2018. It has focused on gathering existing data and collecting new data to fill gaps so stakeholders can make informed decisions.

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Project Description

UTRGV project actions will:

  • Identify any potential data gaps in the initial watershed characterization.
  • Collect additional water quality and flow data from the main tributaries of the Brownsville Ship Channel.
  • Model pollutant contributions by each type of source (septic systems, livestock, etc.), quantify reductions needed, and prioritize measures to reduce them.
  • Provide a watershed coordinator to facilitate public education and stakeholder involvement in the planning process.

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For More Information

To find out more about the NPS Program, call 512-239-6682 or e-mail us at nps@tceq.texas.gov.

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