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Austin Area Watersheds: A TMDL Project to Protect Recreational Uses

A community project to reduce bacteria and protect recreational safety in Waller, Walnut, and Shoal creeks and Taylor Slough in the city of Austin. The Austin community has developed an Implementation Plan (I-Plan), which together with TMDLs developed by the TCEQ with community feedback, provide the the road map for improving water quality. The commission has adopted the TMDLs and approved the I-Plan.
photo of Walnut Creek in Austin, Texas;
Walnut Creek

County: Travis
Parameter: Bacteria
River Basin: Colorado
Segments: 1403J, 1403K, 1428B, 1429C

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Background and Goals

High concentrations of bacteria are often found in four streams in the Austin metropolitan area —Waller and Walnut Creeks, Spicewood Tributary to Shoal Creek, and Taylor Slough South. High concentrations of bacteria may indicate a health risk to people who swim or wade in the creeks—activities called “contact recreation” in the state’s standards for water quality.

The goal of the project is to reduce bacteria levels to protect people who swim or wade in the creeks. The City of Austin provides summary information about the watershedsExit the TCEQ on its website.

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Get Involved

In all our projects, we seek opinions and information from people who represent government, permitted facilities, agriculture, business, environmental, and community and private interests in the watershed.

Throughout this project, all interested stakeholders and communities that use or affect these streams have been engaged in developing the strategy to improve water quality.

The UT School of Law Center for Public Policy Dispute ResolutionExit the TCEQ coordinated public involvement during the planning phase of this project. TCEQ is coordinating updates and meetings regarding implementation status.

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Status of Activities

The TCEQ coordinates follow-up meetings, providing opportunities for stakeholders to report on progress and changes in the watershed.

See project photo galleries.

Approved I-Plan

At their meeting on January 21, 2015, the commission approved this I-Plan. Community stakeholders worked together to create the I-Plan.

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Adopted TMDLs

At their meeting on January 21, 2015, the commission adopted these TMDLs. Community stakeholders advised the TCEQ on development of the TMDLs. The EPA approved the TMDLs on March 18, 2015, at which time they became part of the state’s Water Quality Management Plan.

Four TMDLs were added by attachment via the April 2015 Water Quality Management Plan Update. The TMDLs, which were included in the original report, are for assessment units that are of concern, but which are not on the 303(d) List. However, recent EPA guidelines allow for TMDLs that are protective. Therefore, EPA has approved these four TMDLs for the additional four assessment units of concern.

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For More Information

Please e-mail us at, and mention the Austin Area Bacteria TMDL project. Or call us at 512-239-6682.

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communities working together taking care of our rivers, lakes, and bays