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The Bacteria Implementation Group (BIG) led the development of a TMDL document for the Clear Creek Watershed and completed it in 2008. The TMDL Document addresses impairments for the contract recreation use of the two main segments of the Clear Creek watershed and seven tributaries, first identified by the TCEQ. The document was adopted by the TCEQ on September 10, 2008, and approved by the EPA on March 6, 2009.
The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality had determined that Clear Creek 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 Clear Creek be suitable for swimming, wading, fishing, and aquatic life. Swimming and wading is called 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.