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Arroyo Colorado: A Watershed Protection Plan

A completed plan and assessment project to improve water quality in the Arroyo Colorado

aerial photo of Arroyo Colorado and Laguna Atascosa
Laguna Atascosa
near the mouth of the Arroyo Colorado
map of the Arroyo Colorado watershed

Counties: Cameron, Hidalgo, Willacy
Parameter: Dissolved oxygen
Basin: Nueces–Rio Grande Coastal Basin
Segment: 2201

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Background and Goals

The Arroyo Colorado, an ancient distributary channel of the Rio Grande, extends 90 miles from Mission, Texas to the Laguna Madre in the Rio Grande Valley. Water quality analyses show that dissolved oxygen concentrations in the Arroyo are not optimal for the support of fish and other aquatic life. The goal of the project is to restore the quality of the Arroyo to conditions that will support a healthy aquatic community.

In July 2002, the TCEQ initiated a project with area stakeholders to develop a watershed protection plan (WPP). Results of a TMDL analysis developed in 2002 by the TCEQ indicated that the dissolved oxygen problem in the tidal segment was related as much to the physical setting and geomorphology of the Arroyo Colorado as it was to the loading of nutrients and oxygen-demanding substances from the non-tidal segment.

Working with the TCEQ and other agencies, the Arroyo Colorado Watershed Partnership, a group of local stakeholders and interested parties, developed A Watershed Protection Plan for the Arroyo Colorado to guide the work of improving dissolved oxygen levels.

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Public Participation

A steering committee, which is no longer active, was established to advise the TCEQ on the original project to develop a TMDL for dissolved oxygen. The steering committee established five work groups to address key elements of the TMDL.

To develop the watershed protection plan, stakeholders in the area then established the independent Arroyo Colorado Watershed Partnership .

Watershed Plans

The original Watershed Protection Plan was developed by the region's stakeholders in partnership with several state and federal agencies.

In 2017, stakeholders in the area updated their plan. See it on the website of the Arroyo Colorado Watershed Partnership .

The Pollutant Reduction Plan describes the regulatory and voluntary measures in effect from 2006 through 2015 to reduce the pollutant loadings from sanitary wastewater flowing into the Arroyo Colorado.

The TCEQ Nonpoint Source Program and the EPA are providing support for implementing the WPP.

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Contact the TMDL Program

Please e-mail and mention the Arroyo Colorado in the subject line. Or call us at 512-239-6682.

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