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Watershed FAQs

How many watersheds are in Texas?

In Texas, there is an extensive surface water network. This network consists of 23 major river basins that are confined within the state, shared with neighboring states, or shared along an international border.

In addition, the Gulf of Mexico is a unique water body which the state must continue to monitor and manage.

This extensive network of rivers helps Texans meet their water needs. However, it also is a good conveyance system for various water quality constituents. Although many water quality constituents may move naturally, human activities can change or accelerate these.

What are some examples of information that you might gather for a watershed?

  • Sizes, locations and designated uses of all water bodies
  • Water bodies having impaired use support
  • Causes of impairment (pollutants, habitat limits, etc.)
  • Physical water attributes
  • Biological water attributes
  • Chemical water quality
  • Locations, sources and loadings of point source discharges
  • Categories of nonpoint sources and estimates of loadings
  • Groundwater quality
  • Sources impacting groundwater
  • Fish and wildlife surveys
  • Topographic and hydrologic maps
  • Land use and cover maps
  • Detailed soil surveys
  • Demographic data and growth projections
  • Economic conditions-income, employment
  • Threatened and endangered species and habitat
  • Wetland maps
  • Riparian land maps
  • List of relevant local stakeholders

Who might monitor water quality and quantity in my watershed?

Some of the people and agencies that might monitor water quality and quantity in your watershed are:

  • United States Army Corps of Engineers
  • United States Environmental Protection Agency
  • United States Geological Survey
  • United States Fish and Wildlife Service
  • Texas Commission on Environmental Quality
  • Texas Water Development Board
  • Texas Parks and Wildlife
  • Regional planning groups
  • Groundwater conservation districts
  • Municipal utility districts
  • River authorities

What is a TMDL?

According to the EPA, a TMDL or total maximum daily load is a calculation of the maximum amount of a pollutant that a water body can receive and still meet water quality standards, and an allocation of that amount to the pollutants source. A TMDL is the sum of the allowable loads of a single pollutant from all contributing point and nonpoint sources.

Am I in a TMDL?

To determine if you are in a TMDL, identify the watershed that you are located in. Next, check the current 303(d) list to determine if your watershed is named and to identify the associated water quality parameter.

Do I contribute to the TMDL in my area?

In short, all activities, whether agricultural, industrial, municipal or recreational, contribute to the water quality in your watershed. Depending on the constituent of concern, some activities may be more significant contributors than others.

How does a TMDL designation get removed?

A plan for management of the TMDL in your watershed must be developed and effectively implemented in order to remove your watershed from the 303(d) list of impaired water bodies.

What is the major permitting program in place?

As authorized by the Clean Water Act, the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit program controls water pollution by regulating point sources that discharge pollutants into waters of the United States. This permitting program is applicable to concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs), combined sewer overflows (CSOs), pretreatment (wastewater treatment plants), sanitary sewer overflows (SSOs) and stormwater (construction activities, industrial activities and municipal stormwater sewers).