Questions or Comments: tmdl@tceq.texas.gov
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Big Creek: A Community Project to Protect Recreational Uses

A project to reduce bacteria and protect recreational safety in Big Creek. The stakeholders and the TCEQ are developing a total maximum daily load (TMDL) and implementation plan (I-Plan), which together will be the road map for improving water quality.

photo of big creek
Big Creek
Photo Courtesy of the
Houston-Galveston Area Council
map of the Big Creek watershed

Counties: Fort Bend
Parameter: Bacteria
Basin: Brazos River
Segment: 1202J
Assessment Unit (AU): 1202J_01

On this page:

Background and Goal

Since 2002, high concentrations of bacteria, which are found in both human and animal waste, have been observed in the Big Creek in Fort Bend County. The presence of these bacteria may indicate a health risk to people who swim or wade in the creek—activities referred to as “contact recreation”—in the Texas Surface Water Quality Standards.

Bacteria are commonly found in the intestines of warm-blooded organisms such as humans, livestock, poultry, cats, and dogs. Bacteria from human and animal waste often indicate the presence of disease-causing microorganisms, which can pose a health threat to people who engage in contact recreation.

The goal of this project is to improve water quality in order to protect recreational uses. Toward that goal, TCEQ and stakeholders are developing a TMDL and an I-Plan to reduce bacteria in Big Creek.

Learn more about water quality standards, monitoring, and TMDLs by reading Preserving and Improving Water Quality, available on our website and in print.

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Watershed Description

Big Creek (Segment 1202J) is a tributary of the Brazos River in Fort Bend County. The segment has two AUs—1202J_01 and 1202J_02. Only AU 1202J_01 has an impaired contact recreation use, but there is concern about elevated bacteria concentrations in AU 1202J_02.

The project watershed drains approximately 222 square miles of mixed urban, agricultural, and undeveloped rural land uses. The watershed includes portions of the cities of Richmond and Rosenberg, and there are several smaller communities.

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Get Involved

In all its projects, TCEQ gathers opinions and information from people who represent government, permitted facilities, agriculture, business, environmental, and community and private interests in the watershed. Stakeholders are a key part of developing solutions for Big Creek. They are advising TCEQ on the TMDL allocations and will develop the I-Plan.

Staff from the Houston-Galveston Area Council (H-GAC) have been working with stakeholders to distribute information about this project and involve them in developing plans to improve water quality.

All public meetings about this project are open to anyone interested. Watch for meeting announcements here and on the H-GAC's Big Creek webpageExit the TCEQ.

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Project Status

TCEQ and H-GAC began work on this project in 2018 as part of a larger regional assessment of water quality the Houston-Galveston area. H-GAC completed a watershed characterization report that was used by TCEQ and stakeholders to decide whether it was necessary to develop TMDLs for Big Creek. H-GAC is currently working on a study that will provide technical support for developing the TMDLs. 

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Contact the TMDL Program

Please email tmdl@tceq.texas.gov, and mention the Big 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