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The mission of the Denton Watershed Protection program is to maintain the quality of each watershed, ultimately protecting our water sources and the ecosystems within our watersheds.

What is a watershed?
A watershed is the area of land that catches rain and snow and drains or seeps into a marsh, stream, river, lake or groundwater, and eventually even to the ocean. Watersheds can range from acres to hundred or even thousands of square miles. Some watersheds extend across county, state, and even international borders. Just as creeks drain into rivers, watersheds are nearly always part of a larger watershed.

Why is watershed protection important?
Surface and groundwater resources are tied directly to all watersheds. Anything that can be picked up with rainfall runoff or any other drainage can end up in the watershed. This includes trash and pollutants that can upset the ecosystem and threaten our resources for water supply and recreation.

Areas of concern for watershed protection
Non-point source pollution is water pollution that originates from surprisingly common sources such as our homes, yards, cars and even our pets. It is generated by a variety of everyday activities and is Denton’s leading cause of water quality degradation. What may initially appear as harmless behaviors such as fertilizing, mowing, taking out the trash and walking the dog can clog or pollute a storm drain which drains to Lake Lewisville a primary source of drinking water for much of the DFW Metroplex.

What does Watershed Protection do?
The Watershed Protection division administers programs to reduce the overall pollutants within the surface waters of Denton and to ensure compliance with the National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Storm Water Phase II rule. In Texas, the Texas Commission of Environmental Quality (TCEQ) administers the Texas Pollution Discharge Elimination System (TPDES). As a TPDES phase II City, Denton operates and maintains a ‘municipal separate storm sewer system’ or MS4 for residents and businesses within the City of Denton. 

Watershed Protection services include:

  • Detecting and eliminating illicit discharge
  • Construction stormwater inspections
  • Public education, outreach and involvement
  • Review of Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plans (SWPPPs) and erosion control plans
  • Ensuring regulatory compliance with TPDES
  • Environmentally Sensitive Area assessments
  • Coordination of volunteer citizen scientists
  • Industrial stormwater inspections
  • Municipal good housekeeping

Through routine monitoring baseline conditions for the physical, chemical, and biological components of the city's surface water resources are established and monitored. Results from this monitoring program are used to support the requirements of the Phase II storm water program and assess water quality for the purposes of source water protection.

Cooper Creek, Hickory Creek, Pecan Creek and Clear Creek are the four main watersheds that convey water through Denton. Using topographical information, approximately 85 sub-basins have been delineated within the city. Sampling stations were established within these sub-basins at locations that would likely represent the water quality of the sub-basins. Monitoring of these sub-basins during base-flow conditions was initiated in January 2001 and has continued on a monthly basis ever since. Parameters analyzed in the tributary samples include flow status, temperature, dissolved oxygen, pH, conductivity, turbidity, salinity, litter index, visual evaluation and odor.  Bimonthly, ten sampling stations are randomly selected for more intense analysis which included E. coli bacteria, metals, phosphorus, nitrogen, ammonia, nitrate, chlorides, sulfates, alkalinity, hardness, total solids and total suspended solids.

Permanent monitoring stations are established near the downstream ends of the three major watersheds (Hickory, Pecan and Cooper Creeks) prior to the confluences with Lewisville Lake and an additional station is established in Lewisville Lake near the drinking water intake. Real time monitoring is conducted at these locations by datasondes, an instrument with multiple sensors. These stations provide a more comprehensive assessment of the combined effects of sub-basin water quality just prior to entering the City's main drinking water source as well as near our primary drinking water intake on Lewisville Lake.

The data from the stream monitoring program are analyzed with the following objectives:

  • Characterize the general water quality condition of the stream
  • Identify illicit discharges
  • Identify long-term water quality trends

To learn more about the construction and industrial components of our program, visit the business Watershed Protection page.

What you can do to protect watersheds

  • Participate in Ten on Tuesday: Join hundreds of North Texas residents in preventing litter from reaching our waterways by picking up just 10 pieces of trash every Tuesday. It’s easy and effective — if, for just one year, 5,000 residents chunk 10 pieces of litter a week into the trash or recycling bin, the Metroplex will reduce litter by 2.6 million pieces!
  • Avoid pollution: Properly dispose of used oil, antifreeze, paints, and other household chemicals with the City's free Home Chemical Collection program. Clean up spilled brake fluid, oil, grease, and antifreeze; but do not hose them into the street where they can eventually reach our water.
  • Pick up and properly dispose of pet waste: Pet waste can contain high levels of bacteria and pathogens that can be harmful to not only aquatic life, but to public health.
  • Volunteer: Each year, the City offers volunteer opportunities to help protect and maintain our water sources, such as Stream Clean, Great American Cleanup, and Texas Stream Team.
  • Report a spill. To report a spill or illegal dumping, call (940) 349-7745 (SPIL). If material spilled or dumped appears hazardous or is on fire, call 911.
  • Reduce trash from our waterways: Foster a litter-free Trinity watershed. The City of Denton is one of six metroplex cities that participates in the trash free trinity online mapping tool to promote and track trash removal activities in our region. The adopt-a-spot mapping tool is designed to facilitate / coordinate site adoptions for litter control. 

Watershed Residential FAQs


MOre You can do

  • Doo Your Part
    The average dog generates a quarter pound of feces a day? This may not sound like much, but it means that a watershed of 100,000 people has more than two and half tons of feces deposited into it EACH DAY ... that adds up to almost two million pounds per year!

    An estimated 1.2 million dogs live in the North Texas area. Alone, each dog doesn’t “doo” that much, but collectively, it causes big problems!
    • Stormwater runoff can pick up and carry any pollutants that are left on the ground and deposit the into the City’s stormwater system. Stormwater is not treated, so that means whatever goes down the drain, such as chemicals, fertilizers, sediment and pet waste, will end up in our local streams, creeks and Lewisville Lake. Pet waste can contain high levels of bacteria, nutrients and pathogens that can be harmful to not only aquatic life, but public health. By picking up and disposing of pet waste properly, the amount of fecal pathogenic pollution can be decreased.
    • Pet waste is not only smelly and unsightly, but it also poses health risks for pets and people and is a water contaminant. Microorganisms causing health issues (including ampylobacteriosis, cryptosporidium, toxocariasis, parvovirus, and roundworms) can remain in the soil for up to four years if not cleaned up.
    • Pollutants from pet wastes (fecal coliforms, nitrogen) can be washed into streams and lakes from storm drains by rain or irrigation. This can make water unattractive or even unsafe for swimming, boating, fishing, and drinking.

    • Flush it: Pick up the waste with a scooper and flush it in a toilet.
    • Toss it: Place the waste in a plastic grocery bag, tie the end securely, and place it in your green trash cart.
    • Bury it: Scoop the waste and bury it at least six inches underground, away from gardens and water sources.
    • Let Us know!  Take the Pet Waste Pledge and Doo Your Part Survey! Click Here to take the survey.

    Helpful Links
  • Texas Stream Team

    Texas Stream Team is a network of trained citizen monitors and supportive partners working together to gather information about the natural resources of Texas and to ensure the information is available to all Texans. Established in 1991, Texas Stream Team is administered through a cooperative partnership between Texas State University, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Currently, hundreds of Texas Stream Team citizen monitors collect water quality data on lakes, rivers, streams, wetlands, bays, bayous, and estuaries in Texas. Denton is a Texas Stream Team Partner, meaning we offer annual training sessions and have loaner sampling kits.  Additionally we support the advanced training sessions which cover nutrient (nitrogen and phosphorus) and bacteriological monitoring.

    For more information, please email watershed@cityofdenton.com.

    Texas State University/Meadows Center for Water and the Environment Main Stream Team webpage

  • Proper Leaf Disposal
    We all take pride in the appearance of our homes and yards. However, blowing leaves into the gutter or dumping them into drainage ditches are autumn activities with potentially serious consequences. 

    They have to go somewhere. Leaves and yard debris that are blown into the street eventually collect in the storm drains. During heavy rains, clogged storm drains and bar ditches can cause flooding. The Drainage Department dispatches a Street Sweeper on a schedule that takes about six months to make a full pass through the City. On a good day the sweeper can pick up around 40 cubic yards...or about 40 pickup truck loads. That's a lot of yard waste to send to the Landfill. 

    Mulching is an easy and beneficial way to deal with leaves. Just mow and leave on your lawn. Composting is another alternative, you can have home grown fertilizer ready for planting. You can bag yard waste and place on the curb with trash pick-up for recycling into Dyno Dirt.
  • Cap the Gap
    Cleanouts are the pipes that allow access to a home or business’s sewer service.  They are usually covered by white plastic caps that protrude above the top of the cleanout pipe. 

    People often mow over these caps, breaking off the top. This allows rainwater to flow in through open cleanouts, which can overwhelm sewer system pipes, cause overflows, and cost more money to carry this excess water to the wastewater plant and treat it.

    It is a homeowner's responsibility to install a sewer cleanout if one is not present.  If you have a cleanout, City Code Section 26-188 requires that you maintain your cleanout by keeping it capped.

    Working together, we can cap the gap and save valuable resources. 

    For more information, call (940) 349-8489.
  • Swimming Pools

    Did you know swimming pool water can pollute our creeks, streams, and lakes? Even though it is safe for us, swimming pool water may contain chemicals that are harmful to aquatic life. Anything discharged into streets or storm drains goes directly to the nearest creek, stream, or lake without being treated. With the average pool holding about 19,000 gallons, improper disposal can adversely impact our waterways. Pools have a high concentration of chlorine which is toxic to fi sh and wildlife.

    To prevent algae, many pools are treated with an algaecide, often containing copper or silver which can hinder natural plant growth along streams.

    Where should I drain the water from my pool?

    • Into your landscape for irrigation. Pools may be discharged onto your property if the water does not run off into streets or cause stagnant water.
    • Into the sanitary sewer system via your home’s sewer clean-out. The sewer clean-out is usually a threaded cap about three to four inches in diameter.
    • After approval by the Watershed Protection Department, into the storm drain system. Watershed Protection can be reached at (940) 349-7123 or (940) 349-7153 or send an email to Watershed@cityofdenton.com.

    To obtain permission, pool water will have to meet the following criteria:

    • Discontinue use of pool chemicals at least three days prior to discharge
    • Dechlorinate water to non-detectable level of chlorine (< 0.1 mg/L)
    • Clean any vegetation and debris from pool
    • Monitor discharge rate to prevent erosion
    • Freshwater pool water only (saltwater pools cannot be discharged to the storm drain)

    Where can I discharge pool filter backwash water?

    Swimming pool filter backwash should be discharged to the sanitary sewer. Though low in volume, it has a higher concentration of contaminants compared to pool water.

    Denton City Code of Ordinances Ch. 26-189 prohibits discharge of pollutants to storm sewer or natural outlet except where suitable treatment has been provided or where a Federal National Pollution Discharge Elimination Systems (NPDES) permit is issued. Fines for violating section 26-189 of the City Code could equal up to $2,000 per violation, per day.