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Subwatershed 1.02 contains Cow Bayou (Segment 0511) and covers approximately 194 square miles in the coastal area of the Sabine Basin. The tidally influenced lower portion of the Cow Bayou Subwatershed, up to a point just above Interstate-10, is designated as Segment 0511 in the Texas Surface Water Quality Standards (TSWQS). The standards are established by the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission to maintain the quality of the water in the state consistent with public health and enjoyment, protection of wildlife, operation of industries, and economic development of the state.

The Sabine River Authority (SRA) 1996 Assessment of Water Quality identified the Cow Bayou Subwatershed as an area of concern due to poor water quality. Water quality concerns or possible concerns in this Subwatershed include dissolved oxygen, ammonia nitrogen, fecal coliform, and sublethal toxicity. Probable sources of the problems include natural conditions exacerbated by numerous point sources from permitted discharges and runoff from septic tanks and other nonpoint pollution sources. Tidal waterbodies typically have limited assimilative capacity, because of low flows and high dissolved solids. These conditions are made worse by the Subwatershed’s high turbidity due to a heavy clay substrate and a large amount of detritus from the deciduous trees common in the area.

Due to the extensive use of this waterbody for contact recreation, an intensive study was conducted on the Cow Bayou Subwatershed to identify the sources of water quality impairments. Monitoring included frequent sampling to document both point and non-point sources of fecal coliform, ammonia, and oxygen depleting materials. Sampling was also conducted to substantiate non-compliance with Texas Surface Water Quality Standards.

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Prepared in Cooperation with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality Under the Authorization of the Texas Clean Rivers Act.

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