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Recreational Use Attainability Analyses

RUAAs planned, in progress, or completed for Texas rivers and streams.

UAAs: What They Are and How They Are Used

The TCEQ uses a watershed-based approach to address water quality. This approach supports integration of various state water quality programs by providing a framework and a mechanism for coordination among water quality management agencies, stakeholders, and the public. As part of this approach, it is essential to develop meaningful, yet attainable, water quality standards.

A use-attainability analysis (UAA) is one of the tools the TCEQ uses to implement its watershed-based approach. A UAA reevaluates designated or presumed uses if there is reason to believe the standards for a water body are inappropriate due to local conditions. A UAA is a scientific assessment of the physical, chemical, and biological characteristics of a water body.


An RUAA is a specific type of UAA that is conducted to evaluate and determine what category of recreational use is appropriate for a particular water body. RUAAs are typically site-specific studies that assess reasonably attainable recreational uses that can occur based on the physical and flow characteristics of a stream – such as water depth and persistence of flow. Supporting information also includes surveys of individuals and organizations with firsthand knowledge of water body, in order to assess historical and existing patterns of recreational use.

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Recreational Uses

Texas protects the quality of the state’s surface waters to ensure that they are safe for various levels of recreational uses. Previous Texas Surface Water Quality Standards considered only two recreational use categories—contact and noncontact recreation. Contact recreation was designated or presumed for virtually all surface water bodies in the state. However, there are many water bodies in the state that do not have sufficient depth or other characteristics that support primary contact recreation.

In 2010, the commission adopted changes to the Texas Surface Water Quality Standards that added two new levels of recreational use. The standards, as adopted, include four categories of recreational uses that can be assigned to individual streams:

  • Primary Contact Recreation
    Activities that are presumed to involve a significant risk of ingestion of water (e.g., wading by children, swimming, water skiing, diving, tubing, surfing, and the following whitewater activities: kayaking, canoeing, and rafting).
  • Secondary Contact Recreation 1
    Activities that commonly occur but have limited body contact incidental to shoreline activity (e.g., wading by adults, fishing, canoeing, kayaking, rafting and motor boating). These activities are presumed to pose a less significant risk of water ingestion than primary contact recreation but more than secondary contact recreation 2.
  • Secondary Contact Recreation 2
    Activities with limited body contact incidental to shoreline activity (e.g. fishing, canoeing, kayaking, rafting and motor boating) that are presumed to pose a less significant risk of water ingestion than secondary contact recreation 1. These activities occur less frequently than secondary contact recreation 1 due to physical characteristics of the water body or limited public access.
  • Noncontact Recreation
    Activities that do not involve a significant risk of water ingestion, such as those with limited body contact incidental to shoreline activity, including birding, hiking, and biking. Noncontact recreation use may also be assigned where primary and secondary contact recreation activities should not occur because of unsafe conditions, such as ship and barge traffic.

The TCEQ will be conducting numerous RUAAs over the next several years to determine the most appropriate recreational use category for rivers and streams.

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RUAA Procedures

Public Participation

The TCEQ actively seeks the participation of various water quality management agencies and the public. Local participation is crucial to identifying the most appropriate recreation use category. During the RUAA process, stakeholders will have the opportunity to give information about recreational uses based on their local knowledge and expertise. Strong participation will ensure that the most appropriate use category and criteria are recommended for inclusion in the Texas Surface Water Quality Standards.


Meetings about RUAA projects are open to the public. There are no upcoming meetings at this time.

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Reports for Public Comment

RUAA reports are open to everyone for comment. The public comment period for the following reports will close May 18, 2018. Comments can be submitted via email to standards@tceq.texas.gov or by mail to:

Katherine Lavelle
P.O. Box 13087
Austin, TX 78711

The report and photos are in PDF Adobe Acrobat PDF Document or Excel Spreadsheet Microsoft Excel format. Approximate file sizes are in parentheses.

Lower Prairie Dog Town Fork Red River (0207) RUAA

White Oak Creek (0303B) RUAA

South Lilly Creek (0409B) RUAA

Little Cypress Bayou (0501B) RUAA

Brazos River Basin RUAA

Colorado River Basin RUAA

Rocky Creek (1602B) RUAA

San Miguel Creek (2108) RUAA

Arenosa Creek (2453C) RUAA

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Recommendations for Public Comment

Rocky Creek (1602B)

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Find RUAAs by Basin

Locate information about RUAA projects that are planned, initiated, or completed by Basin Name.

Basin Name

  • 1—Canadian River Basin
  • 2—Red River Basin
  • 4—Cypress Creek Basin
  • 5—Sabine River Basin
  • 6—Neches River Basin
  • 8—Trinity River Basin
  • 10–San Jacinto River Basin
  • 11—San Jacinto–Brazos Coastal Basin
  • 12—Brazos River Basin
  • 13—Brazos–Colorado Coastal Basin
  • 14—Colorado River Basin
  • 19—San Antonio River Basin
  • 20—San Antonio–Nueces Coastal Basin
  • 21—Nueces River Basin
  • 22—Nueces–Rio Grande Coastal Basin

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For More Information

E-mail us at standards@tceq.texas.gov or see contact information for staff members.

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