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North Bosque River: General Uses

This is a project to improve water quality in the North Bosque River by developing and implementing total maximum daily loads (TMDLs). The TMDLs were adopted, and the implementation plan (I-Plan) has been approved. Together, they provide the road map to improved water quality.
photo of the North Bosque River
North Bosque River
map of the North Bosque River watershed

Counties: Bosque, Erath, Hamilton, and McLennan
Parameter: soluble reactive phosphorus
River Basin: Brazos River
Segments: 1226, 1255

Background and Goal

The North Bosque River and Waco Lake, formed by an impoundment of the Bosque River, serve as the primary drinking water supplies for more than 200,000 people in the Waco area. Water quality testing found high levels of nutrients in the North Bosque River that have contributed to excessive growth of algae and other aquatic plants in the river. This can impair the river’s aesthetic value, may cause taste and odor problems in drinking water, and under certain circumstances, result in fish kills.

To address the nutrient impairment, TCEQ established TMDLs for phosphorus (the limiting nutrient in the watershed) for the Upper North Bosque River (Segment 1255) and North Bosque River (Segment 1226). The TMDLs determined the amount (or load) of phosphorus that the waterbodies can receive and still support their designated uses. This allowable load was then allocated among all the potential sources of pollution within the watershed, and an implementation plan establishing measures to reduce pollutant loads was developed.

Learn more about water quality standards, monitoring, and TMDLs by reading Preserving and Improving Water Quality.

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Description of Watershed

The North Bosque River is located in the Brazos River Basin. It originates in central Erath County northwest of Stephenville. From Stephenville, it flows southeast through the towns of Hico, Meridian, Clifton, and Valley Mills before entering Waco Lake in McLennan County. The watershed contains 1,190 square miles and is characterized by Cross Timbers in the western portion, and Grand Prairie and Blackland Prairie in the eastern part.

The North Bosque River is an important resource to the surrounding region. The North Bosque River and Waco Lake are the surface water supplies for the cities of Waco, Clifton, and soon, Meridian. These cities serve more than 200,000 people, for whom the river and lake are the primary drinking water supplies. The river also provides water for a variety of agricultural activities and has been used for recreational fishing and swimming by local residents.

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Status of TMDL Implementation Reported at Stakeholders Meetings

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Get Involved

In all our projects, we seek opinions and information from people who represent government, permitted facilities, agriculture, business, environmental, and community and private interests in the watershed. Membership in the North Bosque River TMDL stakeholders group is open and voluntary. Please email to be added to TCEQ's stakeholder email group. Find out more about what it means to Participate in TMDL Projects.

The Texas Institute for Applied Environmental Research (TIAER) performed most of the technical and administrative tasks associated with development of the TMDLs. TIAER worked in coordination with the Brazos River Authority (BRA) and under the guidance of TCEQ. Representatives from those agencies and from the City of Waco, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board (TSSWCB), Texas Agricultural Extension Service (Blackland Research Center), Baylor University, the University of Texas Center for Research in Water Resources, and the Texas A&M University Water Resources Institute served as an ad hoc technical work group assisting TIAER in developing project tasks and reviewing results.

Public participation in developing the TMDLs and I-Plan was coordinated through the Bosque River Advisory Committee (BRAC), which convened in 1995 as a forum for public discussion and coordination of water quality issues. The BRAC had representatives from the Texas State legislature, county and city governments, concerned citizens, dairies, farmers, ranchers, agriculture groups, industries and environmental groups.

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North Bosque River TMDL Work Group

At the suggestion of the general stakeholder group in September 2020, TCEQ formed a small work group to recommend next steps for this watershed. Members of the North Bosque River TMDL Advisory Work Group were volunteers from the general stakeholder group.

Original Bosque River Stakeholder Advisory Group

A committee called the Bosque River Stakeholder Advisory Group was established to advise the TCEQ on development of the TMDLs and I-Plan. The last planned meeting of the named Advisory Group was in August 2002.

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Adopted TMDLs

The commission adopted these TMDLs on February 9, 2001.

The EPA approved these TMDLs on December 13, 2001, at which time they became part of the state's Water Quality Management Plan.

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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.

  • July 2008, pages 7–9
  • July 2009 Appendix IV, page 11

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 .

For WQMP updates prior to 2014, use the TRAIL Search the TCEQ engine as outlined below. The main search box on the page will only conduct a simple search with no exclusionary parameters and should not be used.

  1. First, limit your search to TCEQ only. Do this via the advanced search feature on the left of the page. To limit a search to TCEQ content, enter “” or “” into the “From the Host” search box.
  2. Refine your search to narrow down results. The other search boxes on the left of the page allow for search terms to be included, excluded, or used in an exact phrase search. Date ranges can be used as well.

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The commission approved the I-Plan on December 13, 2002. The Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board approved it on January 16, 2003.

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For older or mid-year reports, go to TIAER's online publications search and search for the subject "Bosque River."

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For More Information

Please email and mention the North Bosque River in the subject line. Or call us at 512-239-6682.

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