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Dont know if you have heard about this yet?
How much river water should get to the bay?
By Heber Taylor
The Daily News
Published November 24, 2010
If you live in Galveston County, it’s important to grasp three things.
• The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality is responsible for setting “environmental flow standards” for how much water is allowed to flow into Galveston Bay from the Trinity and San Jacinto rivers.
• The standards proposed are not adequate to protect the bay.
• You have an opportunity to comment on the proposed rules.
Galveston County residents argue about a lot of silly things, but the amount of freshwater entering Galveston Bay is a serious matter.
The problem is not the amount of water that will flow into the bay next year or any one year thereafter.
It’s the amount that will flow into the bay in the next few decades, when demand for water along the Trinity and San Jacinto rivers could be so heavy that very little reaches the bay.
There are legitimate competing demands. It’s not unreasonable, for example, for people in Dallas, which is on the Trinity, to want water for themselves, their pets and their lawns.
It’s not unreasonable for people in this area to want enough water to flow into Galveston Bay to keep salinity levels within ranges that allow oysters to live.
This is a complicated discussion.
The best advice is to find every bit of information you can and speak up. This is going to be an issue for decades, unless the people downstream meekly accept the demands of people upstream and allow Galveston Bay to slowly die.
As you read the material, see if you don’t agree that there are at least three objections to the proposed rules.
• The proposed standards are just too low in general. The minimum amounts of water flowing into the bay that would be OK from an environmental point of view are below the levels the bay has experienced historically, even in dry years.
• The proposed standards lack protections for the bay when protection is most needed — during droughts.
• The proposed standards lack recommendations on specific species that biologist use as indicators of the health of the bay.
For example, if the population of oysters declined catastrophically, that fact alone should trigger a review of whether these standards for protecting the bay are, in fact, protecting the bay.
Beyond the obvious, people should be concerned that so many of the scientists who were involved in this process dissented from the report that was approved by the environmental commission’s staff.
It’s never a good sign when the scientists are asked whether rules are adequate to protect a vital natural resource and the answer is “no.”
A Quick Study Guide
• The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality staff draft of proposed standards
Look for “HB3/SB3 Environmental Flow Standards”
• The commission’s website on the Trinity and San Jacinto Rivers/Galveston Bay area flows process
• Background on the Environmental Flows Allocation Process, from the point of view of several environmental groups
Click on the Trinity link for details on Galveston Bay. The group’s 2004 report “Bays in Peril” is on the same site.
• An alternate report, supported by some scientists, to the one accepted by the environmental commission’s staff
• Senate Bill 3, which set up the environmental flows allocation process
Look for Article 1
How To Comment
ON THE WEB: www5.tceq.state.tx.us/rules/ecomments
Comments should reference Rule Project Number 2007-049-298-OW.
• Texas Commission on Environmental Quality
• Trinity and San Jacinto Rivers/Galveston Bay area flow
• Environmental Flows Allocation Process background
• Alternate report
• Senate Bill 3
• Comment on Texas Commission on Environmental Quality
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