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Colorado River Below E.V. Spence Reservoir

This is a completed community project to implement total maximum daily loads (TMDLs) to reduce salinity from chloride, sulfate, and dissolved solids in the Colorado River below E.V. Spence Reservoir. Together, the adopted TMDLs and approved Implementation Plan (I-Plan) are the road map to improving water quality.
photo of palacios port jetty
Colorado River Below E.V. Spence Reservoir
map of the Colorado River Below E.V. Spence Reservoir TMDL watershed

Counties: Coke, Runnels, Nolan, Taylor
Parameters: Chloride, Sulfate, TDS
River Basin: Colorado River
Segment: 1426

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About the Project

The Colorado River Below E.V. Spence Reservoir, Segment 1426, is a 66-mile freshwater stream located within the larger Colorado River Basin. Segment 1426 receives the majority of its flow from E.V. Spence Reservoir.

In 2000, water quality testing found elevated levels of chloride, sulfate, and total dissolved solids (TDS) in the creek. High concentrations of these salts are indicators of general water quality that are not tied to a specific use, but may affect several uses.

For example, too much chloride can cause a bad taste in drinking water, harm plumbing, and increase the risk of hypertension in humans. Large quantities of sulfate can cause drinking water to smell or taste bad. High concentrations of dissolved solids can be toxic to species that live in fresh water.

The goal of this project was to improve water quality in the river by implementing TMDLs.

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Public Participation

People who live or work in the watershed, or stakeholders, worked closely with the TCEQ and the Upper Colorado River Authority on the TMDLs and I-Plan to improve the creek. 

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Status of Restoration

Segment 1426 was removed from the index of all impaired waters in the 2020 Texas Integrated Report of Water Quality. Based on data collected from 12/01/11 through 11/30/18, concentrations of dissolved solids in the river segment are now within the criteria in the Texas Surface Water Quality Standards. The TMDLs remain in effect.

The stakeholders met in May 2016 to discuss progress on their implementation plan, which was revised in 2014. Tracking implementation progress allows stakeholders to evaluate actions taken, identify actions that may not be working, and make any changes as necessary.

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Approved I-Plan

The commission approved the I-Plan on October 10, 2007.

Revised Implementation Plan

In 2013, the Upper Colorado River Authority (UCRA) began working with stakeholders to review the I-Plan and its progress. Through a series of public meetings, UCRA worked closely with stakeholders to gather information and form a coordination committee and work groups to focus on specific aspects of the plan. In 2014, the stakeholders prepared a revised I-Plan to continue their efforts in improving local water quality.

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Adopted TMDLs

The commission adopted two TMDLs for the Colorado River on February 7, 2007.

The EPA approved the TMDLs on April 9, 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 TMDL 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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Contact the TMDL Program

Please e-mail and mention the Colorado River Below Spence TMDL project in the subject line. Or call us at 512-239-6682.

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Communities Working Together