Energy & Environment

Stressed Texas Rivers Could Mean Too Little Water For Galveston Bay

The future health of Galveston Bay may be threatened by a lack of fresh-water. It’s an issue at the center of “water use” rules under revision in Austin.

The salinity levels in Galveston Bay depend on the flow of freshwater from rivers
The salinity levels in Galveston Bay depend on the flow of freshwater from rivers.

Galveston Bay took a hit back in 2011 during the big drought. So little freshwater was coming into the bay from the Trinity and San Jacinto Rivers that it became saltier than what sea creatures consider ideal.

"One of the key species that suffer the most are oysters," said Paula Paciorek, Water Resources Coordinator with the Galveston Bay Foundation. She told News 88.7: "Oysters don't do well in high salinity levels."

That's one concern of the foundation and other environmentalists which is why some of them were at a meeting in Austin.

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality yesterday held the latest in a series of meetings to write new rules for how Texas river water is used by cities and industry.

As things are now, if water rights that have already been granted were used to their full extent in future years, it's feared that some river flows would permanently be as low as they were in the 2011 drought.

"We want to see the Bay receives the water it needs....With increased population, increased water use we are very worried this will not be possible," said Paciorek.

She says more research is needed to help the state find the best way to meet a mandate put forth nearly a decade ago by the Texas legislature: that when water rights are granted, the impact on the environment must be considered.



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Dave Fehling

Dave Fehling

Director of News and Public Affairs

As Director of News and Public Affairs, Dave Fehling manages the radio news operation at Houston's NPR station. Previously, he was a reporter at the station, covering the oil & gas industry and its impact on the environment. He won top state honors for in-depth and investigative reporting as well...

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