Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) | Galveston Bay Bacteria Reduction
Upper Gulf Coast Oyster Waters Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) Implementation Plan
Oyster fisheries in Galveston Bay produce more oysters than any single water body in the United States, in fact, more than the combined production of both Louisiana and Washington, making them important commercially to the area. In addition, oysters serve an important ecological role as filter feeders in the estuary influencing conditions such as water clarity and phytoplankton abundance. Oysters create reef habitats utilized by many other species and serve as an important indicator of the overall health of a bay ecosystem.
To ensure the continued health of these important ecosystems, the state of Texas requires that bay and gulf waters that have the proper conditions be suitable for producing and harvesting edible species of clams, oysters, or mussels, and for various other uses. However, data assessed in 2002 showed that localized sections of six bay segments in the Upper Texas Coast are not suitable for harvesting shellfish because of elevated bacteria concentrations. The use of waters for oyster harvesting, also called the oyster waters use, is the most commonly impaired use among Texas bay and gulf waters.
Bacteria from human and animal waste may indicate the presence of disease-causing microorganisms that pose a threat to public health. Bacteria from the water can accumulate in oysters and other shellfish, making them unsafe to eat, especially since some shellfish are often eaten raw.
The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) has developed a total maximum daily load (TMDL) for fecal coliform, the pollutant that contributes to the impairment of the six segments. A TMDL is like a budget for pollutants. It estimates the amount of a pollutant that a water body can receive and still support its designated uses. The affected segments are Upper Galveston Bay (Segment 2421), Trinity Bay (Segment 2422), East Bay (Segment 2423), West Bay (Segment 2424), Chocolate Bay (Segment 2432), Lower Galveston Bay (Segment 2439).
The Galveston Bay Foundation is currently assisting TCEQ with the development of an Implementation Plan for the TMDL in these sensitive areas. Implementation plans describe the actions that local, regional, and state organizations must take to reduce pollutants to levels established in TMDLs. GBF will be inviting stakeholders to get involved in developing reduction measures and a monitoring plan to lower the bacteria concentrations in the oyster waters of the Upper Gulf Coast.
GBF staff was interviewed by Pat Hernandez on KUHF Houston Public Radio. Listen to the 7/6/2010 interview "Keeping the Bays Clean" now!
Members of the public joined GBF for a meeting on January 18, 2012 at the Armand Bayou Nature Center to continue learning about bacteria issues in Galveston Bay. Those in attendance were introduced to the Galveston Bay watershed, the Implementation Plan process and members of the team that have helped develop this plan over the past couple of years. They got a chance to ask questions about the proposed measures that will be carried out and hear about upcoming water quality events and activities that they can participate in. Finally, participants viewed a demonstration on non-point source pollution using the Enviroscape watershed model and GBF staff explained how this tool will be used to engage various audiences around Galveston Bay in order to increase awareness of this issue. For more details on the meeting you can view the agenda, presentation and meeting minutes below.
A public meeting was held on November 15, 2011 in Pasadena in order to continue expanding the audience that is aware of the Oyster Waters TMDL Implementation Plan. Those in attendance were given an overview of the water quality issues and sources being addressed in the plan, as well as given a chance to express their opinion on which of these they are most concerned with. The potential management measures being proposed in the plan were presented and representatives from each of the stakeholder workgroups were present to answer any questions the public may have had.
Three public meetings were held July 20-22 in Galveston, Anahuac, and Seabrook for the Oyster Waters TMDL Implementation Plan. The purpose of the meetings was to give the public and all stakeholders an update on the progress that the workgroups have been making toward developing bacteria reduction management measures for the Galveston Bay area. Please review the meeting minutes from the public meetings as well as the “Potential Management Measures” document to get more information about the project. The Power Point presentation and agenda from the meetings is also included.
Workgroup Meeting Schedule
|Boater Waste||OSSF||WWTF||Policy and Outreach|
|6/6/2012; 2:00 pm
Workgroup Meeting Minutes
02/24/2010 Stakeholder Meeting
A stakeholder meeting for anyone interested in getting involved with the TMDL was held on Wednesday, February 24th at the Clear Lake Park Meeting Room. TCEQ presented TMDL background and the Implementation Plan process. Five workgroups were set up, based in part, on possible sources of the contaminant: Waste Water Treatment Facilities (WWTF), On-Site Septic Facilities (OSSF), Marinas/Boater Waste, Policy and Outreach, and Science and Monitoring. The following presentations are available from this meeting: Upper Coast Oyster Water TMDL for Bacteria (pdf) and Building Implementation Plans to Restore Water Quality (.pdf).
For more information, please contact Charlene Bohanon, Water Quality Outreach Specialist, at (281)332-3381 x215 or firstname.lastname@example.org.