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Oso Creek: A Community Project to Protect Recreational Uses

A community project to protect recreational uses of the creek by reducing concentrations of bacteria in Oso Creek and in Oso Bay. The stakeholders have completed a total maximum daily load (TMDL) and are working on its implementation plan (I-Plan). Together, the TMDL and I-Plan are a road map for improving water quality.
photo of Oso Creek
Oso Creek

County: Nueces
Parameter: Bacteria
Coastal Basins: Bays and Estuaries, Nueces–Rio Grande Coastal Basin
Segment: 2485A

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Overview and Goals

Since 2002, water quality testing has found that concentrations of bacteria are elevated in Oso Creek, which may pose a risk to people who swim or wade in it. Swimming and wading are called “contact recreation” in the state’s standards for water quality; the term refers to all recreation in which people come in direct contact with the water. The goal of this project is to reduce bacteria concentrations to within acceptable risk levels for contact recreation.

The Oso Creek watershed is wholly contained within Nueces County in the Nueces-Rio Grande Coastal Basin. The creek is about 28 miles long. It flows south-easterly from near the western edge of Corpus Christi over flat to rolling terrain, emptying into Oso Bay. Economic activities in the area include oil and gas refining and production, agriculture, manufacturing, and tourism.

Since 2003, the TCEQ, the Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board, and other agencies have conducted several studies of bacteria sources and quantities in the Oso Creek watershed. In 2013, based on results of those studies, the TCEQ began developing a total maximum daily load (TMDL) for the creek. A TMDL is like a budget for pollution—determining how much concentrations must be reduced to meet water quality standards. The Texas Institute for Applied Environmental Research Exit the TCEQ completed technical tasks in support of TMDL development.

The TCEQ and area stakeholders also assessed the oyster waters use of Oso Bay and have completed a TMDL for bacteria in Oso Bay. The work done to improve Oso Creek should also improve conditions in Oso Bay.

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Get Involved

Staff from the Center for Coastal Studies Exit the TCEQ at Texas A&M University–Corpus Christi are working with stakeholders to develop a plan for watershed improvement. Public meetings about this project are open to everyone.

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The commission adopted the TMDL on July 31, 2019. When approved by the EPA, it will become part of the state's Water Quality Management Plan.

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For More Information

Please send an e-mail to tmdl@tceq.texas.gov, and mention the Oso Creek Bacteria 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