This past year, the monitors collected 444 water quality samples at 51 sites around Galveston Bay. Volunteers tested for air and water temperature, dissolved oxygen, pH, salinity, water transparency, depth and at some sites fecal indicator bacteria.
Figure 1. 2016 Water Monitoring Locations. Each blue dot represents a sampling location during 2016.
Overall, the results were positive. Dissolved oxygen levels, which indicate suitability for aquatic life, remained at healthy levels throughout the bay; only one percent of the samples collected too low to support life. Water transparency and pH remained stable and relatively unchanged to past years.
The data also found fecal indicator bacteria levels safe overall within Galveston Bay, with 90 percent of the samples collected safe for swimming and boating. Many samples with unsafe bacteria levels were collected after major rain events.
However, salinity levels were slightly concerning and reported slightly lower than normal throughout much of Galveston Bay. Over time, these lower salinities can impact plant and animal life. For example, this summer’s low salinity levels are thought to have limited oyster spawning within the Bay.
Both air and water temperatures were also slightly higher than in past years. Through continued, long-term monitoring of water quality, GBF will better be able to understand whether this is a significant trend.
In addition to the overall water quality summary, GBF also released year-in-review summaries for each site regularly-monitored in 2016. Click the sites on this map to access individual site summaries.