The University of Texas at Austin   School of Law

Center for Public Policy Dispute Resolution

Building Collaboration

Improving Austin Streams

Implementation Plan and TMDL nearing final approvals;
TCEQ seeks public input

Efforts are moving forward to improve the quality of streams in Austin.  On September 8, 2014, the Improving Austin Streams Coordination Committee approved submittal of its final draft Implementation Plan (I-Plan) to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.  TCEQ will consider approval of the I-Plan, along with adoption of a Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) in early 2015.  These documents will guide efforts to reduce bacteria in four Austin watersheds (Walnut Creek, Waller Creek, Spicewood Tributary of Shoal Creek, and Taylor Slough South).

The TMDL (developed by TCEQ) is a detailed water quality assessment that determines the limits on sources of indicator bacteria in the watersheds. 

The Implementation Plan outlines the measures that the groups involved will take to clean up these streams. The current draft includes a wide variety of voluntary activities in the categories of:

  • riparian zone restoration,
  • wastewater infrastructure,
  • domestic pet waste,
  • resident outreach, and
  • stormwater treatment.

The I-Plan was developed by the Improving Austin Streams (IAS) Coordination Committee, with public input and efforts of four workgroups, with a goal to “develop and implement strategies to reduce fecal contamination such that the affected watersheds fully meet contact recreation water quality standard.”

Please continue to refer to the IAS website, which reflects timely information about upcoming meetings, current drafts and documents, maps and other pertinent IAS information.  To read more:  Click here

Map of watersheds in Austin listed as impaired for contact recreation by TCEQ.
Map of watersheds in Austin listed as impaired for contact recreation by TCEQ


Improving Austin Streams:
Walnut Creek, Waller Creek, Taylor Slough South
and Spicewood Tributary of Shoal Creek

Quick Facts:

  • Four Austin streams have elevated levels of bacteria that may indicate an increased health risk for swimming or wading in the waters.

  • This project brings together interested people in the Austin area to design an Implementation Plan (I-Plan) that will improve water quality with the goal of making the streams safe for wading and swimming. 

  • TCEQ is developing a Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL)  in a parallel process to designate the pollutant load of the streams.

  • The Improving Austin Streams Coordination Committee continues to guide development and implementation of the I-Plan, which provides strategies for improving the water quality of these streams.  The Committee used four workgroups to develop detailed recommendations for the plan.

  • The Coordination Committee (December 2013) submitted a draft I-Plan to TCEQ, following public input. 

  • TCEQ has authorized publication and public comment on both the draft I-Plan and TMDL, closing August 18, 2014.  TCEQ will hold a public comment meeting on August 7, 2014.

  • The Coordination Committee on September 8, 2014 approved the final I-Plan for submittal to TCEQ.

Center for Public Policy Dispute Resolution:
Suzanne Schwartz,  512.471-3507

City of Austin:
Chris Herrington, 512.974-2840

Texas Commission on Environmental Quality: 

Lauren Oertel,  512.239-3604
Chip Morris,   512.239-6686