Questions or Comments: tmdl@tceq.texas.gov
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Adams Bayou and Cow Bayou Watersheds: A Community Project to Protect Aquatic Life and Recreational Uses

A project to reduce bacteria concentration and increase levels of dissolved oxygen to protect recreational and aquatic life uses. Total maximum daily loads (TMDLs) were developed and adopted for bacteria, dissolved oxygen, and pH. Stakeholders developed the approved implementation plan (I-Plan), which together with the TMDLs is the road map for improving water quality.

Counties: Orange, Jasper, Newton
Parameters: Bacteria, dissolved oxygen, pH
River Basin: Sabine River
Segments: 0508, 0508B, 0508C, 0511, 0511A, 0511B, 0511C, 0511E
Assessment Units (AUs): 0508_01, 0508_02, 0508_03, 0508_04, 0508B_01, 0508C_01, 0511_01, 0511_02, 0511_03, 0511_04, 0511A_02, 0511B_01, 0511C_01, 0511E_01

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Project Description and Goals

Adams Bayou and Cow Bayou are located in southeast Texas. Their combined watersheds cover almost 250 square miles in the coastal area of the Sabine River Basin. Water flow in the bayous is intermittent, and periods with no flow are very common.

Between 1992 and 2002, TCEQ found that bacteria levels in the bayous and their tributaries may pose a health risk for swimmers. Low concentrations of dissolved oxygen in some areas indicate that conditions are not optimal for aquatic life.

The goals of the project are to:

  • Reduce bacteria levels in the bayous to ensure that recreational use is safe.
  • Maintain levels of dissolved oxygen and pH that will sustain aquatic life.

The Sabine River AuthorityExit the TCEQ and other stakeholders worked with TCEQ to develop the plan for improving water quality in the project watersheds.

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Get Involved

The Sabine River AuthorityExit the TCEQ, in partnership with TCEQ, coordinates efforts to implement the I-Plan and improve water quality in Adams and Cow bayous.

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Implementation Status

Tracking of implementation progress allows stakeholders to evaluate actions taken, identify actions that may not be working, and make any changes as necessary.

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I-Plan

Community stakeholders worked together to create the I-Plan. On August 5, 2015, the Commission approved the stakeholders' plan. 

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Revised TMDLs

The Commission adopted the revised TMDLs on August 26, 2020. EPA approved them on October 9, 2020, at which time they became part of the state's Water Quality Management Plan.

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Original TMDLs

The Commission adopted these TMDLs on June 13, 2007. EPA approved them on August 28, 2007, at which time they became part of the state's Water Quality Management Plan (WQMP).

Updates to TMDLs

From time to time, it is necessary to revise TMDLs to account for changing conditions in the watershed, such as new or amended permits, or urban growth, or to correct oversights in the original TMDL report. Updates to the load allocations in TMDLs are made via the state’s WQMP, which is updated quarterly.

The WQMP provides projected effluent limits for use in planning and permitting activities under the Texas Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (TPDES). TCEQ reviews all applications for new and amended permits for conformance with applicable portions of the WQMP, including adopted TMDLs.

Revisions to the TMDLs are documented in the approved WQMP updates listed below.

Learn more about the WQMP and opportunities to comment on updates to it.

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Reports and Other Documents

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Contact the TMDL Program

Please email tmdl@tceq.texas.gov and mention the Orange County project 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