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Energy & Environment

Environmental Group Outlines Cleanup Plan For Galveston Bay

Plans include learning more about troubled septic systems and raising public awareness of the problem.


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Galveston Bay is seen to the left in this U.S. Army Corps of Engineers photo.

About half of Galveston Bay is off-limits to oyster harvesting because of high bacteria levels, but 2017 could prove to be a big year for efforts to clean up the bay.

As the Galveston Bay Foundation recently explained at an event in League City, this is the first full year the group has the money needed to implement part of its “Bacteria Reduction Plan.”

The state-funded project outlines ways to limit fecal bacteria that gets into the bay from old or broken septic systems, wastewater facilities and animals, among other sources.

Nate Johnson, Water Programs Manager at the foundation, said Monday that upcoming efforts include trying to map out and just find out more about those septic systems.

“Are they active, are they malfunctioning, how old are they, are they in compliance with a permit?” he said, pointing to questions the foundation is hoping to answer. “All that stuff we don't really know.”

The group wants to help homeowners with the problem, and it's also focusing on educating boaters about alternatives to dumping treated wastewater into the bay.

Johnson said one plan is to set up new "pump-out facilities" around the bay, where boaters can safely get rid of waste.

“Ideally at one or two a year, but it really depends on if marinas are willing to take on these projects, or if cities are willing to sponsor a couple of pump-outs,” he said.

This week, a representative from the Galveston Bay Estuary Program, another entity working on the issue, said that despite the fact that half of all Texans live near water that flows into the bay, one of the biggest challenges to keeping it healthy is letting the public know these problems exist.

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