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Houston-Galveston Region BIG: Implementing a Plan to Protect Recreational Uses

The goal of this project is to reduce bacteria levels in waterways of the Houston area to make them safer for recreation. The stakeholders of the Bacteria Implementation Group (BIG) and the TCEQ developed total maximum daily loads (TMDLs) for numerous river and lake segments and a regional Implementation Plan (I-Plan), which together are the road map to improving water quality. The TCEQ has adopted the TMDLs and approved the Implementation Plan.

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Water quality testing found that bacteria concentrations are elevated in numerous waterways in the Houston–Galveston region. High bacteria concentrations might pose a risk to people who swim or wade in natural waters. Swimming and wading are called “contact recreation” in the state’s standards for water quality; the term refers to all recreation in which people are likely to swallow natural waters.

The goal of this project is to reduce bacteria concentrations and protect recreational safety. This project included 72 TMDLs for 60 waterway segments. Several TMDLs and segments have been added since the Implementation Plan was completed.

Watershed Counties: Brazoria, Harris, Fort Bend, Grimes, Liberty, Montgomery, San Jacinto, Walker, and Waller

Parameter: Bacteria

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Get Involved

The Bacteria Implementation Group (BIG)Exit the TCEQ is coordinating public participation in improving Houston-area waterways. Meetings of the BIG are open to everyone. Meeting records are available on the BIG’s websiteExit the TCEQ. Find out more about what it means to Participate in TMDL Projects.

Business Meetings

Business meetings are held twice annually, usually at the H-GAC offices. See the BIG’s websiteExit the TCEQ for more information about work groups and steering committee meetings.

Bacteria Implementation Group Fall Meeting

Tuesday, November 29, 2022

1:00pm – 3:00pm

3555 Timmons Ln, Ste. 100

Houston, TX 77027

This meeting will be both in-person and virtual. Registration is requiredExit the TCEQ to attend virtually via Zoom. You are welcomed to register even if you plan to attend in person. If you have questions regarding the meeting, please email Steven Johnston at

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San Jacinto River Authority
Houston-Galveston Area Council
Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board
Texas Commission on Environmental Quality
Harris County
Montgomery County
Harris County Flood Control District
Harris County Soil & Water Conservation District #442
Buffalo Bayou Partnership
City of Conroe
City of Houston
City of League City
City of Webster
Cypress Creek Flood Control Coalition
Nottingham Country

Municipal Utility District
Gulf Coast Waste Disposal Authority
Bayou Preservation Association
Galveston Bay Foundation
Greater Houston Partnership
Houston Audubon Society
Dodson & Associates, Inc./HCEC
Pate Engineers
The Woodlands Joint Powers Agency
Schwartz, Page, & Harding, LLP
LDP Consultants Inc.
Texas Coastal Partners
Lone Star College
US Geological Survey


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Contact the TMDL Program

Please contact Steven Johnston, the Project Manager at the H-GAC, at 713-627-3200 or email Steven Johnston. You may also e-mail and mention the Houston-Galveston bacteria project in the subject line. Reach the TMDL Program by phone at 512-239-6682.

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Communities Working Together