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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.

Standards Are State Rules

The Texas Surface Water Quality Standards are codified in Title 30, Chapter 307 of the Texas Administrative Code . TCEQ develops the Standards under the authority of the Clean Water Act and the Texas Water Code (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:

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

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

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.

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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