In 1991 the Trinity River Basin National Water-Quality Assessment (NAWQA) will include assessments of surface-water and ground-water quality. Initial efforts have focused on identifying water-quality issues in the basin and on the environmental factors underlying those issues. Physical characteristics described include climate, geology, soils, vegetation, physiography, and hydrology. Cultural characteristics discussed include population distribution, land use and land cover, agricultural practices, water use, an reservoir operations. Major water-quality categories are identified and some of the implications of the environmental factors for water quality are presented.