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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. TMDLs to reduce levels of indicator bacteria in the following watersheds are being implemented through the regional I-Plan: Armand Bayou and Tributaries, Brays Bayou and Tributaries, Buffalo and Whiteoak Bayou and Tributaries, Clear Creek and Tributaries, Crystal Creek, Eastern Houston, Greens Bayou, Halls Bayou, Jarbo Bayou, Lake Houston, Lake Houston Upstream Watersheds, San Jacinto River East and West Forks, and Sims Bayou and Tributaries.
Lake Houston Wilderness ParkBuffalo BayouClear Creek

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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.

UPDATENext Meeting

Annual Spring Stakeholder Meeting
May 24, 2022
1:00 to 3:00 p.m.

Online via ZOOM and
Houston-Galveston Area Council
3555 Timmons Lane
Conference Room B&C, Second Floor
Houston 77027

Please register in advanceExit the TCEQ for this meeting if you are attending in person. There is a separate registrationExit the TCEQ if you would like to attend via Zoom. If you have any questions or need special accommodations, please email Steven Johnston at H-GAC. This meeting will be a discussion of the on-going implementation efforts in the Houston area.

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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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For More Information

For information regarding this project, please contact Steven Johnston at the H-GAC at 713-627-3200 or email Steven Johnston. You may also e-mail the TCEQ’s TMDL Program 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