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Orange County Watersheds: A TMDL Project to Protect Aquatic Life and Recreational Uses

A community project to improve water quality for support of 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.

photo of Adams Bayou
Adams Bayou

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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Background 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. The water flow in the bayous is intermittent, and periods of no flow are very common.

Water quality testing 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 of the creek 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, and
  • maintain concentrations of dissolved oxygen and pH in the bayous at levels that will sustain aquatic life.

The Sabine River AuthorityExit the TCEQ and other stakeholders worked with the 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 the TCEQ, is coordinating the continuing efforts to implement the plan to improve water quality in Adams and Cow Bayous.

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

Progress of Implementation

Progress of Updates to the TMDLs

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Community stakeholders worked together to create this I-Plan. On August 5, 2015, the commission approved the stakeholder's I-Plan. 

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Revised TMDLs

The Commission adopted the revised TMDLs on August 26, 2020. Upon their approval by the EPA, the TMDLs will become part of the state's Water Quality Management Plan.

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Original TMDLs

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

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. Revisions 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). The TCEQ reviews all applications for new and amended permits for conformance with applicable portions of the WQMP, including adopted TMDLs.

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

Learn more about WQMP updates and about opportunities to comment on revisions to them.

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Reports and Other Documents

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For More Information

Please e-mail us at, 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