Oil spill fund could help shape coastal health

Houston Chronicle, April 8, 2015

They are fairly small patches, greenish smears carpeting the bottom in shallows along the south shoreline of West Galveston Bay. A dozen acres here. Fifty acres there. Most people other than duck hunters, anglers and other keen observers of marine life don’t even notice them. But these stands of bottom-hugging aquatic vegetation – shoalgrass, mostly – hold outsized significance.
They illustrate the struggles Galveston Bay and, by extension, the rest of Texas’ coastal landscapes have endured over the decades, the efforts being made to address the degradation of these relentlessly beleaguered ecosystems, the benefits of an environmentally healthy coast, and the unprecedented opportunity Texas will have to make huge strides in improving the state’s coastal natural resources and the quality of life of Texans.

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TCEQ – Seafood market owner’s sales don’t count

Victoria Advocate, March 20, 2015

AUSTIN – In a move that goes against its own rules, the state environmental agency again declined to give a seafood wholesaler a say in a water project that could affect San Antonio Bay.

Wesley Blevins, the owner of Chunky Monkey Seafood in Seadrift, testified at a hearing in Austin on Wednesday to establish that his business would be affected if a reservoir was built on the Guadalupe River.

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Rising acidity of Texas bays concerns scientists

Houston Chronicle, March 17, 2015

Many Texas bays are souring as fresh water grows scarcer because of drought and increasing urban demands, a change that could harm oysters and other shellfish and in time reverberate through the food chain, scientists reported Tuesday.

Researchers from Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi found a steady rise in acidity from Galveston Bay to near where the Rio Grande empties into the Gulf of Mexico since the late 1960s. The problem becomes more severe as the coastline curves to the south.

The study, published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology, is the first glimpse at the changing chemistry of the bays and estuaries along the Texas coast. The full brunt of acidification will not hit for decades, but the state’s multimillion-dollar shellfish industry could be in harm’s way if the trend continues, said Xinping Hu, an oceanographer who was the study’s lead author.

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Pro-con: Should Victoria store water below ground?

Victoria Advocate, March 15, 2015

Texas’ near-record drought has forced public officials to take action to secure water for their communities.

The city of Victoria has looked at several options, including limiting water use and using groundwater exchange. An underground reservoir could help position the city to better handle another dry spell.

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Excess rain in floodplains sets food-chain phenomenon in motion

Houston Chronicle, March 14, 2015

The crawfish never saw it coming.

All the big, red swamp crawfish knew – if, indeed, crustaceans operate on anything higher than simple instinct – was that one moment it was swimming/crawling in a newly created aquatic wonderland rich with the soft vegetation on which it and hundreds of others of its kind were gorging. The next, it was being jerked from the water, clasped firmly by the twin yellow spikes that are the bill of a great blue heron.

The intersection of the heron and the crawfish’s lives, which occurred this past week along the San Jacinto River, is just a part of the wide and complex natural drama triggered by an event playing out along scores of waterways, large and small, across eastern Texas.

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Legislation could limit public’s voice on environmental decisions

Victoria Advocate, March 7, 2015

SEADRIFT – Since he was 13 years old, Wesley Blevins has sold shrimp caught in San Antonio Bay.

The 68-year-old sold his license to operate a shrimp boat back to the state years ago, when health problems made the grueling 12-hour workdays more difficult.

“I’m proud I grew up a commercial fisherman,” Blevins said. “My daddy was, and my brothers still are.”

Blevins and his wife operate a seafood market a block from the bay, where they work as middlemen between fishermen and women and people who love seafood.

Despite owning a business that depends on the health of the bay, the state’s environmental agency staff recommended Blevins’ voice not be heard by officials considering an upstream project that could affect the bay’s salinity. The agency’s reasoning was the storefront where Blevins sells bay-caught seafood is a block from the water.

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Conference Materials: 2015 Gulf Coast Water Conservation Symposium

United Way Community Resource Center
50 Waugh Drive, Houston, Texas 77007
March 4, 2015
8 AM - 3:30 PM

The Annual Gulf Coast Water Conservation Symposium theme was “Reduce and Reuse: Making Water Conservation Work for the Gulf Coast Region.” Attendees learned about: -Results of a statewide poll focused on public attitudes and perceptions on water supply, water conservation and what utilities can do to promote water conservation -Proven methods from around the state to reduce outdoor […]

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Upriver, a dispute brews on the Colorado over proposed dam

Austin American Statesman, February 20, 2015

Several years ago, at the height of the current drought, the river essentially dried up here, killing off 12,000 of the 100,000 pecan trees that belong to the Leonard family. The nearby town of Goldthwaite, 100 miles northwest of Austin and also dependent on Colorado River water, came within 90 days of losing its water supply altogether.

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Spatial and temporal effects of the Rincon Bayou Pipeline on hypersaline conditions in the Lower Nueces Delta, Texas, USA

Texas Water Journal, February 4, 2015

Erin M Hill, Jace W Tunnell, Brien A Nicolau

The Rincon Bayou Pipeline became operational in 2007 and delivers Nueces River water to the Nueces Delta via the Rincon Bayou. Salinity was monitored during 3 pumping events to identify the spatial and temporal effects of the pumped freshwater to the Rincon Bayou Channel and to areas outside of the channel proper. The spatial extent of the pumped freshwater lowered salinity beyond the Rincon Bayou Channel to connecting marsh areas and salinities remained below hypersaline levels 8 to 16 days after pumping ceased.

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An oral history: War & peace over the Edwards Aquifer

Rivard Report, January 21, 2015

Three years ago, the undeclared Edwards Aquifer water war came to an end after a half century of regional conflict that pitted San Antonio and dozens of regional entities against one another in a feud that divided generations of neighbors.

For decades, San Antonio, as the largest user of aquifer water, was the most resented in a world of self-serving rivalries among the region’s agricultural interests, small towns and area counties, river authorities and water districts, downstream users, and environmentalists.

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