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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

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

On this page:

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 is related as much to the physical setting and geomorphology of the Arroyo Colorado as it is 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A steering committee, which is no longer active, was established to advise the TCEQ on the original project to develop a TMDL for dissolved oxygen.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 plan.

Stakeholders in the area then established the independent Arroyo Colorado Watershed Partnership Exit the TCEQ to direct the development and implementation of the WPP. Find out more about meetings and membership of the Arroyo Colorado Watershed Partnership Exit the TCEQ its work groups.

Watershed Plans

The 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 Exit the TCEQ.

The Pollutant Reduction Plan describes the regulatory and voluntary measures in effect and planned for the next ten years 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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For More Information

Please e-mail us at tmdl@tceq.texas.gov 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