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An Introduction to the Texas Surface Water Quality Standards

An overview of the Texas State Water Quality Standards, a summary of the federal and state regulatory authority that allows the state to write the standards, and how to participate in standards development.


The Texas Surface Water Quality Standards establish explicit goals for the quality of streams, rivers, lakes, and bays throughout the state. TCEQ develops Standards to maintain the quality of surface waters in Texas so that it supports public health and enjoyment and protects aquatic life, consistent with the sustainable economic development of the state.

Water quality standards identify appropriate uses for the state’s surface waters, including aquatic life, recreation, and sources of public water supply (or drinking water). The criteria for evaluating support of those uses include dissolved oxygen, temperature, pH, dissolved minerals, toxic substances, and bacteria. TCEQ may revise statewide standards on a site-specific basis when sufficient information is available.

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Standards Are State Rules

The Texas Surface Water Quality Standards are codified in Title 30, Chapter 307 of the Texas Administrative CodeExit the TCEQ. TCEQ develops the Standards under the authority of the Clean Water ActExit the TCEQ and the Texas Water CodeExit the TCEQ (Scroll down to Section 26.023.) The Texas Surface Water Quality Standards are effective for Clean Water Act purposes when they are approved by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The Texas Surface Water Quality Standards contain several sections, which include:

  • 307.1Exit the TCEQ. General Policy Statement
  • 307.2Exit the TCEQ. Description of Standards
  • 307.3Exit the TCEQ. Definitions and Abbreviations
  • 307.4Exit the TCEQ. General Criteria
  • 307.5Exit the TCEQ. Antidegradation
  • 307.6Exit the TCEQ. Toxic Materials
  • 307.7Exit the TCEQ. Site-Specific Uses and Criteria
  • 307.8Exit the TCEQ. Application of Standards
  • 307.9Exit the TCEQ. Determination of Standards Attainment
  • 307.10Exit the TCEQ. Appendices A-G

The Water Quality Standards are applied to permits as discussed in the Implementation Procedures.

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Public Participation

The public may participate in the development and implementation of the Standards through the Surface Water Quality Standards Advisory Work Group (SWQSAWG).

TCEQ seeks the work group’s guidance on various topics, including nutrient criteria development and application, changes to toxic criteria per EPA criteria updates, implementation of EPA’s guidance on recreational indicators and uses, and site-specific criteria changes to classified and unclassified water bodies.

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Contact the Standards Group

For more information about the Water Quality Standards (30 TAC Chapter 307), please email, or call the Water Quality Planning Division at 512-239-6682. You may also send a fax to 512-239-4410 or mail to TCEQ, MC-234, PO BOX 13087, Austin, Texas 78711-3087.

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