The health of Galveston Bay is dependent upon an adequate amount of freshwater flowing to it from the Trinity and San Jacinto rivers and our area bayous and creeks. You can help keep the flows coming into the bay when you conserve water! You’re more connected to Galveston Bay than you think!
Freshwater inflows dilute the seawater from the Gulf of Mexico, making it less salty and ideal for the fish, shrimp, crab and oysters and other plants and animals that inhabit the bay. These flows bring nutrients that fuel the food web, and sediments that help stabilize wetlands. However, with the population of this region expected to double in the next 40 years, demand for water will increase, and there is no guarantee the bay will continue to get the water it needs to maintain this productivity.
- The Senate Bill 3 legislation did not allow TCEQ to reduce permitted water rights and then dedicate those flows back to the rivers for environmental needs.
- Permitted diversions account for about 90% of rivers’ flows
- GBF and other conservation organizations must work together with water rights permit holders – be they river authorities, municipal water utilities, industry, agriculture, or mining interests – to find cooperative and creative ways to leave some water in the rivers that empty into the bay
- There have been some positive developments along these efforts. For example, in 2011 the City of Houston dedicated 50% of the return flows from their wastewater treatment plants for the benefit of Galveston Bay. Although this is movement in the right direction, we still have a long way to go to acquire the amount of fresh water need for long-term protection of the bay.
Oysters are key indicator species of adequate freshwater inflows because they are sessile (cannot move), and require a narrow salinity and temperature range to survive and ward off predators and disease. Oysters are the Bay’s keystone species, meaning they are disproportionately important to the health of Galveston Bay. Oyster reefs provide habitat for other living critters, such as bivalves, worms, crabs, and juvenile fish. In addition, oysters provide natural water cleansing services: each filters as much as 50 gallons of water a day! If oysters are lost in the Galveston Bay, the entire ecosystem will drastically change.
Oysters prefer middle salinity; too much freshwater (during periods of heavy rain falls) or too little freshwater (during periods of drought) increases oyster mortality. With freshwater in high demand and inadequate legal protection for our rivers, we must think of innovative solutions to maintain adequate freshwater inflows to Galveston Bay.
When you save water at home and work, you protect oysters in the Galveston Bay.
“Join Our Ranks”
There’s strength in numbers, and the Galveston Bay Water Brigade needs you! If each one of us takes small steps, together we can march forward to change the future.
Every drop of water saved helps ensure Galveston Bay receives the freshwater inflows it needs to maintain healthy populations of birds, oysters, fish, shrimp and other wildlife.
Galveston Bay is the source of fresh seafood both locally and beyond. Enjoying local seafood is not only healthy and delicious, but boosts our economy by supporting our hard-working fishermen and those in the restaurant industry.
If seafood isn’t your flavor, you may enjoy the fun of feeling the tug on your fishing line and pulling in “the big one.” There are numerous recreational activities that surround a healthy bay which draw tourists and visitors from all around. A healthy bay means a healthy economy.
On the surface things look calm, but maintaining the balance is trickier than meets the eye.
Let’s take a look at oysters. They seem to take it easy, just hanging out near the beach enjoying the life.
Those oysters are hard at work! They filter all types of pollutants, provide shelter to fish, and create reefs that act as storm surge buffers. This key species require the right range of salinity to be healthy. When adequate levels of freshwater are flowing into the bay, oyster health is at its best, but when not enough water flows downstream, the oysters suffer.
Here’s where the Galveston Bay Water Brigade comes in. When you, or your business, join our ranks by pledging to take simple steps that conserve water, oysters thrive, which then positively affects fish and other marine life in the bay.
Sign the pledge today and give the oysters a hand, since they don’t have any!
Here are some additional things you can do:
- Reduce water use, such as lawn and landscape irrigation. Here are some water conservation tips for outdoors! Find out how you can conserve water indoors here!
- Follow these strategies to help help support freshwater inflows for the Bay.
- Participate in the State’s environmental flows planning process.
- Contact your local representative to make your voice heard.
- Sign up to receive updates from Galveston Bay Foundation’s Environmental Flows program.
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