The Houston-Galveston Area Council is working with stakeholders in the Big Creek Watershed to improve water quality by characterizing, identifying bacteria sources, and developing a TMDL (Total Maximum Daily Load) for the watershed.
Big Creek and its tributaries drain an area of over 200 square miles of central Fort Bend County, Texas. The watershed for this tributary to the Brazos River contains a variety of land uses but is primarily rural and agricultural in character, with several large industrial users and small population centers.
About the Project
The watersheds existing land uses, the impacts of increased residential development pushing into the watershed from the north, and natural sources of pollution have led to a variety of water quality challenges for Big Creek. Elevated levels of fecal waste pose risks for recreation in the waterway, and levels of oxygen and habitat conditions in the waterway are sometimes insufficient to support its aquatic life.
Because of these water quality issues, the Houston-Galveston Area Council (H-GAC) was tasked by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) to prepare the Big Creek Watershed Characterization Report to assess the status and potential means to address water quality challenges in the creek. This approach sought to quantify and describe water quality trends, identify potential sources of pollution (particularly fecal bacteria) and develop information on which to base decisions about future approaches to improving water quality.
Additionally, this project supported and facilitated an initial public outreach effort designed to inform local stakeholders and seek feedback on subsequent steps of addressing water quality in the creek. Next steps are the development of a TMDL study and subsequent Implementation Plan, with the potential for developing a locally-led watershed protection plan (WPP) to address additional stakeholder and TCEQ-identified water quality concerns.