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The goal of the Buffalo and Whiteoak Bayous TMDL project was to develop a TMDL document. Led by the Bacteria Implementation Group (BIG) this goal was achieved in 2009. The TMDL Document addresses 18 impairments to the contact recreation use due to exceedance of indicator bacteria criteria and was adopted by the TCEQ on April 8, 2009, and approved by the EPA on June 11, 2009.
The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) had determined that Buffalo Bayou, Whiteoak Bayou, and several tributaries sometimes have bacteria levels that are higher than state standards for contact recreation. The State of Texas requires that water quality in Buffalo and Whiteoak Bayous be suitable for swimming, wading, fishing, and aquatic life. Swimming and wading are considered contact recreation in the State's standards for water quality, referring to all recreation in which people come in direct contact with the water. People who swim or wade in the bayous may be at risk because of high level of bacteria.
Bacteria from human and animal waste often indicate the presence of disease-causing microorganisms, which pose a threat to public health. In response to the elevated bacteria levels in the bayous, the TCEQ initiated a total maximum daily load (TMDL) project to determine the measures necessary to support recreational uses in these water bodies. The goal of a TMDL is to determine the amount (or load) of a pollutant that a body of water can receive and still support its designated uses. The load is then allocated among all the potential sources of pollution within the watershed, and measures to reduce pollutant loads are developed as necessary.