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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) and their Implementation Plan, which together are the road map to improving water quality. The TCEQ has adopted the TMDLs and approved the Implementation Plan.
Lake Houston Wilderness ParkBuffalo BayouClear Creek

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Watch the BIG video Exit the TCEQ on YouTube. The BIG is a diverse group of committed and concerned people, representing a cross-section of concerned citizens from many disciplines. The group works for better quality water in the 2,200 square-mile area covered by their plan.

Houston-Galveston BIG Project Navigation



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 a regional governing body whose creation was facilitated by the Houston-Galveston Area Council (H-GAC). The BIG was formed to develop and implement a regional plan to reduce bacteria concentrations in impaired lakes, bayous, and streams in the Houston metropolitan area.

The BIG 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 website Exit the TCEQ.

Business Meetings

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

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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 Us

For information regarding this project, please contact Steven Johnston at the H-GAC by phone at 713-627-3200 or by e-mail at steven.johnston@h-gac.com. Or e-mail the TCEQ’s TMDL Program at tmdl@tceq.texas.gov, 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 taking care of our rivers, lakes, and bays