2003 Sabine River Basin Summary Report - Executive Summary

This Executive Summary to the 2003 Basin Summary Report, Sabine River Basin, Texas, was prepared in cooperation with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) under the authorization of the Texas Clean Rivers Act.

Activities and Accomplishments

Since initial operational activities began in 1954, the Sabine River Authority of Texas (SRA) has taken an active role in water quality matters and over the years has expanded its services to meet increasing needs throughout the Sabine River Basin.  The SRA was established with responsibilities to control, store, preserve, and distribute the waters of the Sabine River and its tributary streams for useful purposes. 

The water quality laboratory services and field programs are conducted by the Environmental Services Division (ESD) which operates a modern, well-equipped water quality testing laboratory near Orange.  The SRA provides these services because they fulfill demonstrated needs and have proven to be beneficial for the SRA and its customers in managing and protecting the water resources in the Sabine Basin.

As part of its commitment to serve the evolving water resource needs of the Sabine Basin, SRA reorganized the Water Resources Branch (WRB) creating a new division, Resource Management/ Project Development (RMPD).  The focus of the RMPD is to assist in water resource planning and development activities such as water supply, water resources protection, water quality issues, information management, and environmental services support.

The SRA uses a watershed approach to assess water quality conditions in the Sabine Basin.  This methodology includes all available information in the SRA Watershed Inventory.  In addition to water quality data collected by the SRA, datasets for the inventories have been received from a number of sources including municipalities, government agencies (local, state, and federal), and universities.  Water quality data was not available for some subwatersheds, but assessments were possible due to the information available in the subwatershed Inventories.  Data from September 1998 through August 2003 (5 years) were analyzed for this summary report.  Trend analyses were also conducted for representative sites using water quality data collected from September 1993 through August 2003 (10 years).  Spatial analyses were performed by subwatershed to correlate the water quality conditions with environmental factors. 


Significant Findings

Water quality assessment summaries were developed by analyzing water quality data and all other available information for each subwatershed.  The primary water quality issues are elevated bacteria levels and low dissolved oxygen.  The problems tend to be in small streams with low elevation gradients.  In most cases the problems occur infrequently and do not appear to significantly impact the designated use of the water body.  Some of the impacts are due to excessive loading from point sources, but many of the concerns are the result of non-point source pollution or natural conditions.  Assessments are presented below for each subwatershed in the Sabine Basin.

Sabine Basin Water Quality Summary

Segment/
Subwatershed ID

Descriptions

TCEQ Draft 2004 Texas 303(d) List

SRA Assessment of Water Quality Issues

Water Quality Condition

Level of Potential Impacts

Recommendations

TCEQ

SRA

501

1.00

Main-stem

 

Localized Areas of Elevated Bacteria

Adequate

Low

 

Additional E. coli Monitoring

 

1.01

Black Bayou - LA

 

No Known Issues

Excellent

Low

 

 

511

1.02

Cow Bayou

Low Dissolved Oxygen, High Fecal Coliform, Elevated pH (Segment 0511 & 4 Additional Sub-segments)

Low Dissolved Oxygen, High Fecal Coliform, Elevated pH

Poor

High

Conducting TMDL

Conducting TMDL

508

1.03

Adams Bayou

Low Dissolved Oxygen, High Fecal Coliform, (Segment 0508 & 3 Additional Sub-segments)

Low Dissolved Oxygen, High Fecal Coliform

Poor

High

Conducting TMDL

Conducting TMDL

 

1.04

Burton Shell Canal - LA.

 

No Known Issues

 

Low

 

 

 

1.05

Intracoastal Waterway - LA.

 

No Known Issues

Excellent

Low

 

 

 

1.06

Conway Bayou - LA.

 

No Known Issues

 

Low

 

 

 

1.07

Phoenix Lake (Oil Field) Confluence - LA.

 

No Known Issues

 

Low

 

 

 

1.08

Old Hwy 90 Canal - LA.

 

No Known Issues

 

Low

 

 

 

1.09

Coopers Gully (City of Orange)

 

No Known Issues

Adequate

Medium

 

 

 

1.10

Little Cypress Bayou

Chronic Toxicity in Three Areas of One sub-segment

High Organic Loading

Poor

Medium

Conduct TMDL for Chronic Toxicity

Conduct Sampling After Changes in Discharge Status

 

1.11

High-Line Canal - LA.

 

No Known Issues

 

Low

 

 

 

1.12

Big Bayou at Big Eddy - LA.

 

No Known Issues

 

Low

 

 

 

1.13

Old Sabine River Confluence - LA.

 

No Known Issues

 

Low

 

 

 

1.14

Drainage Channel

 

No Known Issues

Adequate

Low

 

 

503

2.00

Main-stem

 

No Known Issues

Excellent

Low

 

 

 

2.01

Swift Lake/ Big Cypress Creek

 

No Known Issues

Excellent

Medium

 

 

 

2.02

Nichols Creek

Chronic Toxicity, Low Dissolved Oxygen, Elevated Fecal Coliform

Low Dissolved Oxygen, Elevated Fecal Coliform

Adequate

Low

Conduct TMDL for Chronic Toxicity

Natural Conditions - No Further Action Warranted

 

2.03

Slaydons Creek

 

No Known Issues

 

Low

 

 

 

2.04

Brushy Creek - LA.

 

No Known Issues

 

Low

 

 

513

2.05

Big Cow Creek

 

No Known Issues

Excellent

Medium

 

 

 

2.06

Big Slough-La.

 

No Known Issues

 

Low

 

 

 

2.07

Dempsey Creek / Davis Creek

 

No Known Issues

Adequate

Low

 

 

 

2.08

Old River - LA.

 

No Known Issues

 

Low

 

 

 

2.09

Caney Creek

 

No Known Issues

Adequate

Low

 

 

503

3.00

Main-stem

 

No Known Issues

Excellent

Low

 

 

 

3.01

Quicksand Creek

 

No Known Issues

 

Low

 

 

 

3.02

Lost Creek / Rocky Creek

 

No Known Issues

 

Low

 

 

 

3.03

Bayou Anacoco - LA.

 

No Known Issues

Excellent

Medium

 

 

 

3.04

Little Cow Creek

 

No Known Issues

Excellent

Low

 

 

 

3.05

Mill Creek / Melton Creek

 

No Known Issues

 

Low

 

 

 

3.06

Pearl Creek - LA.

 

No Known Issues

 

Low

 

 

 

3.07

Sandy Creek - LA.

 

No Known Issues

 

Low

 

 

 

3.08

Bayou Toro - LA.

 

No Known Issues

 

Low

 

 

504

4.00

Toledo Bend Reservoir

Fish Consumption Advisory,

Localized Low Dissolved Oxygen

Fish Consumption Advisory

Adequate

Low

Conduct TMDL for Mercury

Conduct Periodic Fish Tissue Sampling

 

4.01

Indian Creek / Buck Creek / Mill Creek / Six-Mile Creek

 

No Known Issues

 

Low

 

 

 

4.02

Caney Creek - LA.

 

No Known Issues

 

Low

 

 

 

4.03

Housen Bayou

 

No Known Issues

 

Low

 

 

 

4.04

Yocum Creek / Arnold Creek - LA.

 

No Known Issues

 

Low

 

 

 

4.05

Bayou Negreet - LA.

 

No Known Issues

 

Low

 

 

 

4.06

Lows Creek

 

No Known Issues

 

Low

 

 

 

4.07

Palo Gaucho Bayou

Chronic Toxicity in Water

Slightly Impaired Biological Conditions

Adequate

Low

Conduct TMDL for Chronic Toxicity

Natural Conditions - No Further Action Warranted

 

4.08

Patroon Bayou

 

No Known Issues

 

Low

 

 

 

4.09

Bayou La Nana - LA.

 

No Known Issues

Excellent

Low

 

 

 

4.1

San Miguel Bayou - LA.

 

Low Dissolved Oxygen

Adequate

Low

 

 

 

4.11

Martinez Creek / Brittain Creek / Bayou Siepe

 

No Known Issues

 

Low

 

 

 

4.12

Bayou San Patricia - LA.

 

Low Dissolved Oxygen

Poor

High

 

 

 

4.13

Bossier Bayou - LA.

 

 

 

Low

 

 

 

4.14

Tenaha Creek

 

No Known Issues

Adequate

Medium

 

 

 

4.15

Flat Fork Creek

 

No Known Issues

 

Low

 

 

 

4.16

Styles Creek / McFaddin Creek / Wilkerson Creek

 

No Known Issues

 

Low

 

 

 

4.17

Bayou Castor - LA.

 

No Known Issues

 

Medium

 

 

 

4.18

Socagee Creek

 

No Known Issues

Excellent

Low

 

 

 

4.19

Murvaul Creek

 

No Known Issues

 

Low

 

 

509

4.2

Murvaul Lake

 

No Known Issues

Excellent

Low

 

 

 

4.21

Murvaul Creek (Above Murvaul Lake)

 

No Known Issues

Excellent

Low

 

 

505

5.00

Mainstem

Elevated Bacteria

Localized Areas of Elevated Bacteria

Adequate

High

Conduct TMDL

Additional E. coli Monitoring

 

5.01

Sixmile Creek, Hoggs Bayou

 

No Known Issues

Adequate

Medium

 

 

 

5.02

Jackson Creek, Caddo Creek

 

No Known Issues

 

Low

 

 

 

5.03

Irons Bayou

 

No Known Issues

Adequate

Medium

 

 

 

5.04

Martin Creek

 

No Known Issues

Adequate

Medium

 

 

 

5.05

Martin Lake

 

No Known Issues

 

Low

 

 

 

5.06

Martin Creek above Martin Lake, Dry Branch above Martin Lake

 

No Known Issues

 

Medium

 

 

 

5.07

Cherokee Bayou

 

No Known Issues

 

Medium

 

 

510

5.08

Lake Cherokee

 

No Known Issues

Excellent

Low

 

 

 

5.09

Mill Creek, Tiawichi Creek

 

No Known Issues

Adequate

Medium

 

 

 

5.10

Eight Mile Creek, Parker Creek

 

No Known Issues

Excellent

Medium

 

 

 

5.11

Potters Creek

 

No Known Issues

Adequate

Low

 

 

 

5.12

Brandy Branch

 

No Known Issues

 

Low

 

 

 

5.13

Brandy Branch Lake

 

No Known Issues

 

Low

 

 

 

5.14

Hatley Creek

Low Dissolved Oxygen

No Known Issues

Excellent

Medium

Conduct TMDL

Natural Conditions - No Further Action Warranted

 

5.15

Clarks Creek

 

No Known Issues

Excellent

Medium

 

 

 

5.16

Mason Creek

 

No Known Issues

Excellent

Medium

 

 

 

5.17

Wynns Bayou, Dutchman Creek

 

No Known Issues

 

Low

 

 

 

5.18

Grace Creek

Elevated Bacteria; Low Dissolved Oxygen

Elevated Bacteria; Occasional Low Dissolved Oxygen

Poor

High

Conduct TMDL

Implement Non-point Source Pollution Controls

 

5.19

Rabbit Creek, Bighead Creek

Elevated Bacteria

Occasional Elevated Bacteria; Occasional Low Dissolved Oxygen

Adequate

High

Conduct TMDL

Natural Conditions - No Further Action Warranted

 

5.2

Hawkins Creek

 

Occasional Low Dissolved Oxygen

Adequate

Medium

 

Natural Conditions - No Further Action Warranted

 

5.21

Prairie Creek

 

No Known Issues

Excellent

Medium

 

 

 

5.22

Moody Creek

 

Occasional Elevated Bacteria

Adequate

Low

 

Natural Conditions - No Further Action Warranted

 

5.23

Glade Creek

 

No Known Issues

 

Low

 

 

 

5.24

Lake Gladewater

 

No Known Issues

 

Low

 

 

506

6.00

Main Stem

Elevated Bacteria

Localized Areas of Elevated Bacteria

Excellent

Low

Conduct TMDL

Additional E. coli Monitoring

 

6.01

Little White Oak Creek, Rocky Creek

Chronic Toxicity in Water

No Known Issues

Excellent

Low

Conduct TMDL for Chronic Toxicity

Natural Conditions - No Further Action Warranted

514

6.02

Big Sandy Creek

 

No Known Issues

Excellent

Medium

 

 

 

6.03

Lake Winnsboro

 

No Known Issues

 

Low

 

 

 

6.04

Harris Creek, Sunstroke Creek, Wiggins Creek

Low Dissolved Oxygen

No Known Issues

Excellent

Medium

Conduct TMDL

Natural Conditions - No Further Action Warranted

 

6.05

Little Sandy Creek

 

No Known Issues

Excellent

Medium

 

 

 

6.06

Lake Hawkins

 

No Known Issues

 

Low

 

 

 

6.07

Glade, Lynn Creek

 

No Known Issues

 

Low

 

 

 

6.08

Saline Creek

 

No Known Issues

Excellent

Medium

 

 

 

6.09

Duck Creek

 

No Known Issues

Excellent

Low

 

 

515

6.10

Lake Fork Creek

 

No Known Issues

Excellent

Medium

 

 

 

6.11

Dry Creek

 

No Known Issues

 

Low

 

 

512

6.12

Lake Fork Reservoir

 

No Known Issues

Excellent

Low

 

 

 

6.13

Lake Fork Dam to Lake Fork Creek Shoreline

 

No Known Issues

 

Low

 

 

 

6.14

Lake Fork Dam to Caney Creek Shoreline

 

No Known Issues

 

Low

 

 

 

6.15

Running Creek, Coffee Creek, Caney Creek

Elevated Bacteria

Occasional Elevated Bacteria; Occasional Low Dissolved Oxygen

Adequate

Low

Conduct TMDL

Natural Conditions - No Further Action Warranted

 

6.16

Little Caney Creek

 

No Known Issues

 

Low

 

 

 

6.17

Birch Creek

 

No Known Issues

 

Low

 

 

 

6.18

Elm Creek, Garret Creek

Elevated Bacteria

Occasional Elevated Bacteria; Occasional Low Dissolved Oxygen

Adequate

Low

Conduct TMDL

Natural Conditions - No Further Action Warranted

 

6.19

Lake Fork Creek above Lake Fork Reservoir

 

No Known Issues

 

Low

 

 

 

6.2

Smith Creek

 

No Known Issues

 

Low

 

 

 

6.21

Lake Holbrook

 

No Known Issues

 

Low

 

 

 

6.22

Rock Creek, Village Creek, Dry Creek

 

Occasional Elevated Bacteria

Adequate

Low

 

Natural Conditions - No Further Action Warranted

 

6.23

Grand Saline Creek

 

No Known Issues

Excellent

Low

 

 

 

6.24

Sandy Creek

 

No Known Issues

 

Low

 

 

 

6.25

Caney Creek

 

No Known Issues

Excellent

Low

 

 

 

6.26

Mill Creek

 

No Known Issues

Excellent

Medium

 

 

 

6.27

McBee Creek

 

No Known Issues

Excellent

Low

 

 

507

7.00

Main-stem (Lake Tawakoni)

Low Dissolved Oxygen

Localized Area of Elevated pH

Adequate

Low

 

Natural Conditions - No Further Action Warranted

 

7.01

Wolf Branch

 

No Known Issues

Adequate

Low

 

 

 

7.02

Cedar Creek / Bull Creek / Dunn Creek

 

No Known Issues

Excellent

Low

 

 

 

7.03

South Fork Sabine River

 

Occasional Low Dissolved Oxygen

Adequate

Medium

 

Natural Conditions - No Further Action Warranted

 

7.04

Jones Creek/Quinlan - West Tawakoni Peninsula

 

No Known Issues

 

Low

 

 

 

7.05

Caddo Creek

 

Occasional Low Dissolved Oxygen

Adequate

Medium

 

 

 

7.06

Little Creek - Fannin Creek / Cedar Creek

 

No Known Issues

Excellent

Low

 

 

 

7.07

Long Branch / Horse Creek / Tidwell Creek / Hickory Creek (Cowleech Fork Subwatershed)

Elevated Bacteria; Low Dissolved Oxygen

Occasional Elevated Bacteria; Occasional Low Dissolved Oxygen

Adequate

High

Conduct TMDL

Non-point Sources and Natural Conditions – Implement Watershed Protection Plan

 

Recommendations

Many of the water quality issues are the result of natural conditions due to the low elevation gradients, soil types, and deciduous forests.  The assessment conducted by TCEQ has listed several Sabine Basin Segments and unclassified segments as impaired and all listings for the Sabine Basin have been categorized as being in need of additional information or data before scheduling a Total Maximum Daily Load Project (TMDL).  The SRA has provided information to TCEQ about each waterbody listed and in many cases has accounted for the existing water quality issues.  Most of the listed waterbodies would not benefit from a TMDL.  Many of the water quality issues are the result of applying segment standards to small tributaries that could not be reasonably expected to have similar water quality as classified segments.  Many of these small tributaries were studied by SRA to help categorize the overall water quality in the Sabine Basin.  The Texas Surface Water Quality Standards (TSWQS) specify that the average dissolved oxygen values in water designated for high aquatic life use should be 5 mg/L.  The TSWQS also specifies that the minimum value for these water bodies should be 3 mg/L.  It is reasonable to use the 5 mg/L value to screen the water quality data for large designated segments.  SRA feels the 3 mg/L value is a more realistic level for small unclassified streams and is in agreement with the established standards.  While natural conditions in small East Texas streams will result in occasional low dissolved oxygen levels, biological sampling conducted in these streams indicates a healthy aquatic community. 

High bacteria levels have also been detected in isolated areas throughout the Sabine Basin.  In some water bodies this appears to be the result of both point and non-point sources.  In other areas there are no known sources of sewage contamination and the bacteria levels are likely the result of wildlife.  Additional sampling for E. coli as well as Enterococci will help delineate between human and animal sources of bacteria.

For the 2004 assessment, the TCEQ identified water bodies with small datasets as partially supporting or not supporting designated uses, without regard for sample size, provided they meet the threshold number of exceedances and are otherwise representative.  This change in procedure resulted in several small streams being listed for impairments due to chronic toxicity in water.  Ambient toxicity tests in a few subwatersheds have indicated the possibility of the presence of toxic substances.  As stated in the Guidance for Assessing Texas Surface and Finished Drinking Water Quality Data, 2004, “Water bodies that have shown recurrent ambient water or sediment toxicity are candidates for more intensive special studies to confirm the occurrence of toxic conditions or nonsupport of aquatic life uses, and to determine the causes and sources of the toxicity.”  In every subwatershed in the Sabine Basin that has been included on the Draft 2004 303(d) List for chronic toxicity in water, SRA has conducted extensive additional biological sampling.  In each subwatershed there is no supporting evidence of toxic conditions.  Only the Little Cypress Bayou Subwatershed in Orange County showed impaired biological conditions and the data indicate the cause is excessive organic loading and not toxic substances.  The City of Orange is currently considering the annexation of this area and the waste load may eventually be diverted from this stream.

The SRA Water Quality Monitoring Program has evolved in response to the changing demands on the water resources in the Sabine Basin.  The current coverage of representative sampling sites provides water quality data for all key areas of the Basin.  The need for additional sampling will be evaluated and recommendations will be made to the Sabine Basin Steering Committee.  New sites will be selected on a priority basis to be determined by analysis of the Subwatershed Inventory and input from the Sabine Basin Steering Committee.