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Carters Creek Watershed

This is a community project to reduce bacteria levels and protect recreational uses in the Carters Creek watershed. Together, the adopted total maximum daily loads (TMDLs) and the approved Implementation Plan (I-Plan) are the road map to improving water quality in the watershed.

County: Brazos
Parameter: Bacteria
River Basin: Brazos
Segment: 1209C, 1209D, 1209L

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Background and Goals

High concentrations of bacteria such as E. coli and fecal coliform, which are naturally found in both human and animal waste, may indicate a health risk to people who swim or wade in the creek—activities called “contact recreation” in the Texas Surface Water Quality Standards. Water quality testing has indicated that concentrations of bacteria in Carters, Burton, and Country Club creeks are sometimes higher than the criteria in the Standards for ensuring the safety of contact recreation.

The goal of this project is to reduce bacteria concentrations to within acceptable levels for contact recreation through development of TMDLs and a plan to implement them. A TMDL is like a budget for pollutants. It determines the amount of a pollutant (or load) that a water body can receive and still support its designated uses.

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Watershed Description

The Carters Creek watershed is in Brazos County, and covers about 57 square miles. Land use in the watershed is heavily urbanized in the upper reach where Carters Creek originates in Bryan/ College Station, and becomes more rural in the lower reach. Country Club Branch flows into Burton Creek, which in turn flows into Carters Creek. These tributary watersheds are almost entirely urbanized. The influence of urban areas is most evident during low flow or drought periods, when the streamflow of portions of the Carters Creek watershed is dominated by the effluent from municipal wastewater treatment facilities in the watershed.

Get Involved

In all its projects, the TCEQ seeks opinions and information from people who represent government, permitted facilities, agriculture, business, environmental, and community and private interests in the watershed.

The Texas Water Resources Institute (TWRI) coordinated stakeholder involvement in developing the TMDL and the drafting the I-Plan.

photo of Carters Creek stakeholders

Meeting Records

Records of stakeholder meetings  held during development of the TMDLs and implementation plan are available on the TWRI website.

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The following organizations are partners in implementing the plan to improve water quality in Carters Creek. 

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Status and Activities


The Texas Water Resources Institute is maintaining their project to collect data in the affected streams in order to evaluate the effectiveness of the stakeholders' I-Plan.

The stakeholders met every one to two years through 2016 to discuss implementation of the TMDLs. Tracking of implementation progress allows stakeholders to evaluate actions taken, identify actions that may not be working, and make any changes as necessary.

Implementation Activities

The I-Plan documents measures stakeholders are using to reduce bacteria loads. Their strategy includes the following actions:

  • Coordinate and expand existing water quality monitoring in the watershed and conduct a survey of bacteria sources.
  • Determine the feasibility of modifying tax valuation requirements for agricultural lands; quantify expected water quality impacts of modifications and/or of transitioning from agriculture to wildlife valuations.
  • Work to improve OSSF management to ensure proper system functioning.
  • Implement sanitary sewer overflow (SSO) initiatives as appropriate.
  • Implement voluntary best management practices (BMPs) on agricultural or undeveloped properties.
  • Encourage and promote future development and redevelopment that will mitigate adverse water quality impacts.
  • Implement Stormwater Management Programs (SWMPs) for individual cities.
  • Monitor bacteria concentrations in effluent from WWTFs according to individual permit requirements.

Grant Funded Projects to Support the I-Plan

  • Carters Creek TMDL Data Project, collecting additional water quality data to determine when and where bacteria levels are higher or lower in the creek.
  • Carters Creek Implementation Project, survey the watershed to identify and map possible sources of bacteria pollution and provide more robust information for determining or verifying good strategies for improving recreational conditions.

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Videos, News, and Maps

Adopted TMDLs and Approved I-Plan

On August 22, 2012, the commission adopted the TMDLs for Carters Creek watershed and approved the stakeholders’ Implementation Plan.

TCEQ received no comments on either the TMDLs or the I-Plan during the 30-day public comment period.

On September 27, 2012, the EPA approved the TMDLs, at which time they became part of the state’s Water Quality Management Plan.

Revisions to TMDLs

From time to time, it is necessary to revise TMDLs to account for changing conditions in the watershed. Revisions to the load allocations in TMDLs are made via the state’s Water Quality Management Plan (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.


Updates are made to account for changing conditions in the watershed, such as new or revised wasteload allocations, permits that have been canceled or have expired, or changed facility names. Updates use the same units of measure as the original TMDL.

  • October 2018, Appendix I, page 12
  • January 2016, Appendix III, page 13

WQMP updates may be viewed in person at the TCEQ Library, Building A, 12100 Park 35 Circle, Austin, Texas. Electronic versions of updates published from 2014 through the present are available on the Texas State Library and Archives Commission website .

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Contact the TMDL Program

Please e-mail and reference the Carters Creek Watersheds TMDLs in the subject line. Or call us at 512-239-6682.

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Communities Working Together