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Water quality in the galveston bay system

Nov 30, 2014

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  • 1. Water Quality in the Galveston Bay SystemTeresa Long December 6, 2012

2. Galveston Bay System Semi-enclosed body of water where freshwater from rivers, bayous and tributaries mix with salt water from the Gulf of Mexico Six segments with a combined surface area of 519.1 square miles Valuable natural and economic resource Subtropical ecosystem which provides a valuable nursery for a diverse array of plant and animal species Sustains water-based industries such as recreational and commercial fishing, travel, and ecotourism Port of Houston is the second-largest port in the United States Transportation link for petrochemical industries2 3. Oyster Waters Galveston Bay oyster fisheries produce more oysters than any single water body in the United States Prior to Hurricane Ike, the annual Galveston Bay oyster harvest totaled between 3 and 4 million pounds valued at nearly 10 million dollars Approximately half of Galveston Bay is under some form of oyster harvesting restriction Nine segments are on the Texas Water Quality Inventory and 303(d) List for fecal coliform bacteria impairments(TCEQ, 2012) 3 4. Oyster Waters Oysters are filter feeders are capable of filtering a volume of water per hour that is approximately 1500 times the volume of their body (Lester, 2002) A single oyster filters 50 gallons of water in a single day Due to the large amount of water filtered, any bacteria present in water concentrates in oysters Human consumption of oysters harvested in waters with high levels of bacteria presents a serious public health concern Impairment of oyster waters is most likely mainly due to human activities such as discharging boat sewage into the water 4 5. Water Quality Intern at Galveston Bay Foundation 6/2012-12-2012 Galveston Bay Foundation is a nonprofit organization that works to preserve, protect and enhance Galveston Bay Advocacy Team Seeks solutions to conflicts among diverse users of the bay in an effort to protect long-term interests Reducing bacteria levels in the bay and improving water quality in general is of great importance in ensuring public health and local economy 5 6. Water Quality Intern at Galveston Bay Foundation 6/2012-12-2012 Water Quality Projects Texas Stream Team Certified Trainer Training Volunteer Water Monitors Bacteria sampling & analysis Data management Various education campaigns and public outreach events Research / Data Collection supporting efforts to have the Galveston Bay system declared a No Discharge Zone Developed tools to collect and disseminate information Web-based applications Interactive maps6 7. Water Monitoring Data points generated via chemical analyses, physical testing, and general observations produce a unique portrait of water quality parameters for that particular site and moment in time Over time, trend analysis provides many clues and can facilitate early identification of potential water quality issues caused by nonpoint source pollution 7 8. Point Sources vs. Nonpoint Sources Point sources are single, identifiable pollution sources subject to permit requirements and regulated by the Federal Clean Water Act and Texas Law Effectively regulated and monitored Nonpoint sources originate from many sources which can be difficult to identify Largely unregulated and not subject to permit requirements Analyzing data for trends and correlating it to human contributions can be an effective strategy to define nonpoint source pollution8 9. Reducing Bacteria Levels Galveston Bay Foundation has been tasked with developing an Implementation Plan aimed at reducing bacteria levels in Galveston Bay Boat sewage discharged into the Galveston Bay system is a nonpoint source pollutant Elevates bacteria levels Lowers dissolved oxygen content Untreated discharge from just one weekend boater puts the same amount of bacterial pollution into the water as the treated sewage of 10,000 people The ultimate goal is to secure a No Discharge Zone declaration from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for the Galveston Bay system9 10. Texas Stream Team Statewide network consisting of hundreds of trained volunteers who regularly collect and submit water quality data Volunteers are provided a kit and trained to conduct testing and record data in a manner that produces clear, consistent results10 11. Volunteer Water Monitor Training Phase I Classroom training that includes orientation, demonstration, and practice Phase II Group field training, and individual testing, focuses on recording field observations Phase III Site visit that includes site assessment by a certified trainer, individual training on chemical and physical testing methods, evaluation of proficiency, and volunteer certification11 12. Chemical and Physical Testing Dissolved Oxygen Salinity pH Temperature (Air and Water) Water Transparency Depth Field Observations12 13. Dissolved Oxygen Concentration Measure of amount of oxygen freely available in water Measured in milligrams per liter (mg/L)