Bacteria concentrations are elevated in several parts of Galveston Bay due to contamination from human and animal waste. These areas are closed for harvesting of shellfish for direct marketing because it is unsafe to eat them. The bay historically accounted for 90% of oysters commercially harvested in the state of Texas, but drought, hurricanes, and bacteria impairments have reduced that to about 30%. In addition, human and animal waste introduces nutrients into the bay that can lead to algal blooms and subsequent fish kills, and localized bacteria hot spots can make conditions temporarily unsafe for swimming.
In order to address bacteria impairments, GBF worked with local, regional, and state-level stakeholders and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) to help them develop the Upper Gulf Coast Oyster Waters TMDL Implementation Plan. This community-based plan, which is more simply called the Galveston Bay Bacteria Reduction Plan, lays out the major sources of concern and recommended management measures for reducing bacteria levels to standards that are safe for oyster consumption. The primary sources addressed in the plan include:
• Wastewater treatment facilities
• Sanitary sewer overflows
• Malfunctioning septic systems
• Boat sewage
• Stormwater runoff
View the Plan
The TCEQ Commissioners approved the final plan on August 19, 2015, so now the real work begins!