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Developing TMDL Projects

Information for contractors and other organizations that develop TMDLs in Texas.

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The goal of a TMDL is to restore the full use of a water body that has limited quality in relation to one or more of its uses. The TMDL defines an environmental target by determining the extent to which a certain pollutant must be reduced in order to attain and maintain the affected use. Based on this environmental target, the state helps stakeholders develop an implementation plan to mitigate sources of pollution within the watershed and restore full use of the water body.

The TCEQ and the Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board (TSSWCB) work closely on the preparation and approval of TMDLs when one or more of the sources of pollution are from agriculture or silviculture. A Memorandum of Agreement Adobe Acrobat PDF Document between the TCEQ and the TSSWCB provides the framework for collaboration between the two agencies to develop and implement TMDLs. For additional information or questions about TMDLs managed by the TSSWCB, see the TSSWCB’s TMDL Program web pageExit the TCEQ 

For an overview of the TCEQ’s approach to defining and managing the quality of surface waters in Texas, see Preserving and Improving Water Quality. Read Texas Surface Water Quality: What Is It, and How Is It Measured? Adobe Acrobat PDF Document for a brief overview of water quality standards and the means by which surface water quality is evaluated.

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Guidance for Project Lead Organizations

A lead organization accepts primary responsibility for guiding a TMDL project. Often, the TCEQ is the lead organization. However, the TSSWCB, other state agencies, consultants, universities, river authorities, communities, or private consortiums may lead the development of TMDLs. Ultimately, the TCEQ is responsible for ensuring that all TMDLs developed for Texas water bodies conform with state and federal law; therefore, the TCEQ participates in all TMDL projects, regardless of who leads them.

The June 1999 guidance for the state's TMDL program is no longer applicable to the TCEQ's TMDL projects. Guides and procedures provided on this Web page supersede all similar topics addressed in the June 1999 publication. For guidance on topics not addressed on this webpage, please contact the TMDL Program at or 512-239-6682.

Collecting Data

Guides and procedures for collecting surface water quality data under the state’s quality-assured program.

Managing Data

Guidance, forms, and contact information for people who monitor and manage surface water quality under the state’s assessment program.

Quality Assurance

Quality assurance project plans (QAPPs) and quality assurance plans (QAPs) are required for all TMDL projects. You can obtain shell documents from your TCEQ project manager on the TMDL Team. 

The EPA provides tools and guidance for quality managementExit the TCEQ on their website. All approved TCEQ QAPPs are consistent with EPA guidance. 

See the TSSWCB’s Environmental Data Quality ManagementExit the TCEQ webpage for their quality assurance documents.

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Federal Regulations and EPA Guidance

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)Exit the TCEQ administers the federal TMDL program.

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For More Information

E-mail us at or call us at 512-239-6682.

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communities working together taking care of our rivers, lakes, and bays