The concentration of bacteria is sometimes elevated in six bays in the Houston-Galveston area. A series of public meetings will be held later this month to discuss progress being made on plans to keep the fertile bays clean. Amanda Ross of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality is project manager for the Upper Gulf Coast Implementation Plan. She says at the meetings, they will detail what measures are being developed to reduce bacteria pollution in the bays:
“This specifically deals with a bacterial impairment for oyster waters. And so, what we are looking at are potential septic systems, potentially boater waste was identified. We also looked into maybe some simple educational things that could be done to reduce potential bacteria sources.”
Ross says the report was completed in 2008 and adopted by the TCEQ. Now an implementation plan is being finalized that will hopefully reduce the sources of pollution to the bay:
“For instance we’re looking at, maybe looking at creating a “no-discharge” zone on Galveston Bay, or maybe a boater waste education program and getting additional funding for that. Share kind of these ideas that we have, make sure we’re on the right track, and that everybody agrees with these ideas.”
It is the mission of the Galveston Bay Foundation to preserve, protect and enhance the natural resources of the waters around the bay. But Lisa Miller Marshall with the Foundation says sometimes that’s easier said than done:
“I think its more following the Clean Waters Act, and they have through testing and different measures, they have found that there are some areas where bacteria is higher in the bay, and so TCEQ wants to clean that up.”
She says they’ve been working on a plan to come up with management measures that will reduce the concentrations of bacteria:
“We’ve been doing that with work groups that are made up of stake holders in the area.”
Hernandez: “I undserstand that the bacteria can come from various places.”
Marshall: “This is true. Some of the sources that we are trying to address are the waste water treatment facilities, the septic systems, boater waste, and those are probably the three biggest ones that we are dealing with.”
Once the plan is discussed and fine tuned, it will be presented to the TCEQ for adoption to reduce pollution at the bays. Information on those hearings can be found at www.galvbay.org and by linking to http://www.tceq.state.tx.us/implementation/water/tmdl/74-uppercoastoyster.html.
Pat Hernandez, KUHF News.