Questions or Comments: tmdl@tceq.texas.gov
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Elm and Sandies Creeks: Evaluating Aquatic Life and Recreational Uses

A completed project to evaluate high bacteria and low dissolved oxygen concentrations in Elm and Sandies creeks in south central Texas.

Counties: De Witt, Guadalupe, Gonzales, Karnes, Wilson
Parameters: Bacteria, dissolved oxygen
Basin: Guadalupe River
Segments: 1803A, 1803B

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Background and Status

In Elm Creek (1803A) and Sandies Creek (1803B) in south central Texas, water quality assessment in 1999 found elevated levels of fecal coliform bacteria and low concentrations of dissolved oxygen. TCEQ worked with the Guadalupe-Blanco River AuthorityExit the TCEQ and other regional stakeholders to assess the quality of the affected streams. The TMDL Program's South Central Texas Streams project identified the need to further assess the creeks and determine the most appropriate strategy for the creeks.

Disease-causing bacteria from human and animal waste may threaten public health. People who swim or wade in the creek may be at risk. Oxygen, which dissolves in water, is essential for the survival of aquatic life. While the amount of dissolved oxygen in water fluctuates naturally, various human activities can cause unusually or chronically low dissolved oxygen levels, which may harm fish and other aquatic organisms.

Status

After reviewing the 2005 project assessment reports, stakeholders recommended that analysis of the use attainability of both the aquatic life and contact recreation uses was the most appropriate strategy for the creeks. No TMDLs were developed.

After conducting aquatic life use attainability analyses (ALUAAs), TCEQ proposed changing the aquatic life use standards in 2018 from high to intermediate for both Elm and Sandies Creek. EPA approved those changes in March 2021.

In 2008, based on additional data collected after 2004, TCEQ determined that Elm Creek was meeting its assigned contact recreation use and removed the bacteria impairment from the 303(d) list. No RUAA was therefore needed for Elm Creek. TCEQ has not begun the recreational use attainability analyses (RUAAs) for Sandies Creek.

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Public Participation

TCEQ informed stakeholders about this project at public meetings and in print and electronic media. Meetings about TMDL projects are open to everyone.

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Project Documents

Final reports from the assessment to determine the need for TMDLs, developed under interagency agreement under the supervision of the Texas Engineering Experiment Station.

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Contact the TMDL Program

Please email tmdl@tceq.texas.gov, and mention the Elm and Sandies Creeks project in the subject line. To find out more about the evaluation of the ALUAAs or RUAAs for both creeks, email the TCEQ Standards Group at standards@tceq.texas.gov. Or call the TMDL or the Standards teams at 512-239-6682.

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