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For Immediate Release: 07/29/2008
For More Information: Contact Luke Metzger (512) 479-0388
Beach Warnings Increase in Texas Environment Texas Calls for Faster Pollution Testing, Opposes More Offshore Drilling AUSTIN (July 29, 2008) –
As millions of Americans flock to beaches around the country, Environment Texas reported that beach closings and warnings due to pollution went up last year in Texas, according to the Natural Resource Defense Council’s 18th annual beach water quality report. The group called for increased federal funding and faster testing for beachwater pollution and decried efforts to open protected coastlines to offshore drilling.
Using data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the report, Testing the Waters: A Guide to Water Quality at Vacation Beaches, tallied 532 beach closing and health advisory days in 2007 in Texas, an eleven percent jump from the year before. In Texas, 49 percent of the closing and advisory days were caused by high bacteria levels resulting from storm water run-off. Another 49 per cent were high bacteria levels from unknown sources.
“Some families can’t enjoy a day at the beach because the water is polluted and kids are getting sick,” said Brittany Ballard, Citizen Outreach Director for Environment Texas. “Texas beachgoers should not be swimming in human and animal waste.”
For the first time, the Testing the Waters report gives a five-star rating for a selection of the most popular beaches in the nation. The star rating criteria is based on indicators of beach water quality, monitoring frequency, and use of health standards to protect beachgoers. In Texas, no beaches earned 5 stars, and Stewart Beach Park in Galveston County and McGee Beach in Nueces County earned 1 star, because advisories at those beaches are always issued without waiting for re-sampling or other information to confirm results.
Across the country, the number of closing and advisory days at ocean, bay and Great Lakes beaches was more than 22,000 for the third consecutive year, confirming that our nation’s beaches continue to suffer from serious water pollution that puts swimmers at risk.
While nationally there was an overall decrease in beach closing and advisory days from 2006, regionally the picture varied. The biggest increase in closing and advisory days (38 percent) was in the Gulf Coast region, partly because beaches in Louisiana and Mississippi were reopened and monitored for the first full beach season there since Hurricanes Katrina and Rita struck in 2005.
The report shows that the number of closing and advisory days due to sewage spills and overflows more than tripled to 4,097 from 2006 to 2007, but the largest known source of pollution continues to be contamination from stormwater, which caused more than 10,000 closing and advisory days. Stormwater carries pollution from the streets to the beach without treatment whenever it rains. Unknown sources of pollution caused more than 8,000 closing and advisory days.
Nationally, seven percent of beachwater samples violated health standards, showing no improvement from 2006. In Texas, 9 percent of beachwater samples violated those standards.
“What this report means for families heading to the beach is they need to be careful and do a little homework,” said Nancy Stonerdirector of NRDC’s clean water project. “Call your local public health authority and ask them if the beachwater is safe for swimming. If there is any doubt, or if the water smells bad or looks dirty, stay out of it.”
Aging and poorly-designed sewage and storm water systems hold much of the blame for beachwater pollution. Environment Texas also said that sprawl development in coastal areas is devouring wetlands and other natural buffers such as dunes and beach grass that otherwise would help filter out dangerous pollution before it reaches the beach.
Not only are the beaches polluted, the way they are tested is also failing the American public, according to Environment Texas. Beach water quality standards are more than 20 years old and rely on outdated science and monitoring methods that leave beachgoers vulnerable to a range of waterborne illnesses including gastroenteritis, dysentery, hepatitis, respiratory ailments and other serious health problems. For small children, senior citizens and people with weak immune systems, the results can be fatal.
The Beach Protection Act (H.R. 2537/S. 1506), a bill now pending in Congress, would provide more money for beachwater sampling and require the use of faster testing methods so people get timely information about whether it is safe to swim. The U.S. House of Representatives passed the Beach Protection Act in April and the U.S. Senate is expected to vote on the bill soon.
“We urge Senators Cornyn and Hutchison to support the Beach Protection Act and ensure America’s beaches are tested for pollution in time to protect public health,” said Ballard.
Environment Texas also called on Congress to continue to protect U.S. beaches from offshore oil and gas drilling. Offshore drilling threatens beaches with chronic toxic pollution from oil and gas production and oil spills from the pipelines, tankers and barges that bring oil to shore. Environment Texas also pointed to a Bush administration analysis which concluded that opening currently protected offshore areas would have an “insignificant” impact on prices.
Environment Texas is a statewide, citizen-based environmental advocacy organization.
Testing the Waters 2008 TX.1 Natural Resources Defense Council Texas 10th in the nation in percent exceedances in 2007
Texas 10th in the nation in percent exceedances in 2007
Virtually the entire Texas coast is bordered by barrier islands, which separate the Gulf of Mexico from the bays. The mainland has over 1,400 miles of coastline, but most of it is privately owned or is composed of wetlands. Of the barrier islands, which have almost 400 miles of Gulf shoreline and more than 650 miles of shoreline on their back side, three are privately owned and have beaches that can only be accessed by boat. Padre Island National Seashore and the National Wildlife Refuge are accessible to the public but is federally managed; the state was unable to verify whether beaches at the National Seashore or in the Wildlife Refuge are monitored. Most of the back side of the barrier islands is wetlands with little or no opportunity for water contact recreation. In all, 56 miles of mainland coast, 235 miles of barrier island Gulf coast, and 33 miles of back side barrier island coast are subject to monitoring under the BEACH Act. There are 166 public coastal beaches lining this 324 miles of coastline. Forty percent of these beaches and 50 percent of the beach miles are monitored in a program administered by the Texas General Land office, which contracts with local county health departments, universities, municipalities, and commercial laboratories to conduct the Texas Beach Watch Program.
Nine counties had monitored beaches in 2007: Aransas, Brazoria, Cameron, Jefferson, Galveston, Kleberg, Matagorda, Nueces, and San Patricio. Another five counties with at least one public water contact recreation coastal beach had no monitored beaches:
Calhoun, Chambers, Harris, Refugio, and Willacy. Orange County, Kenedy County, and Victoria County are on the coast but have no publicly accessible beaches and/or no water contact recreation beaches. The Texas General Land Office recommends beach advisories when bacterial standards are exceeded but does not have the authority to close beaches or post advisory signs at the beaches. This authority lies with local government officials and health departments.1 Beaches are monitored year-round, with more frequent monitoring from May to September for all monitored beaches and in March at Gulf of Mexico beaches (for spring break).1 Texas experienced more rainfall in 2007 than in 2006. Texas received a $385,180 federal BEACH Act grant in 2007 and was eligible for a $379,140 grant in 2008. In addition to these funds, the state allocated nearly $150,000 to the beach monitoring program in 2007.
Standards Indicator Organism: Enterococcus Standards: Texas applies an Enterococcus single-sample maximum of 104 cfu/100ml when making decisions about advisories. No geometric mean standard is used. Two or three samples are taken at each location and the results are averaged before comparing to the standard.1 In 2007, the Texas General Land Office funded a study that examined the occurrence and levels of Vibrio vulnificus during the summer at six beach stations currently monitored for Enterococcus through the Texas Beach Watch Program. The Texas General Land Office will use the data to determine if regular sampling and testing for Vibrio is warranted and, if so, will determine the feasibility of using local contractors who already collect water samples to test for Enterococcus to concurrently collect additional samples to test for Vibrio.1 Texas does not have preemptive rainfall standards. In the case of a known sewage spill, the decision to issue a preemptive closing or advisory would be made by local government.1 ?? Sewage 0%?? Stormwater 49%?? Unknown 49%?? Other 2% Texas Sources of Contamination Testing the Waters 2008 TX.2 Natural Resources Defense Council In Texas, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) has a team of biologists who respond to an incident where fish or other animals have been harmed. These specially trained biologists contact other agencies and personnel (including the Texas Department of State Health Services if human health issues are suspected, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality for impacts to natural res urces, and the governing authority that manages a particular area), collect water samples for analysis and confirmation of algae, if appropriate, collect water quality and environmental data, and identify and count the number of dead wildlife, among other tasks. TPWD monitors harmful algal blooms and communicates to the public through their website, e-mail alerts, and a hotline. The Harmful Algal Bloom Workgroup has produced the Texas Harmful Algal Bloom Response Plan for identification and management of harmful algal blooms in Texas.1
Monitoring Frequency: Texas reported 169 beaches in 2007. Thirty-six percent (61) were monitored weekly, 4 percent (7) were monitored at an unspecified frequency, and 60 percent (101) were not monitored. Monitored beaches represent 153 miles of coastline. Beach segments that are used most frequently by the public and where health risks are the greatest are given priority for monitoring.
Practice: The Texas Beach Watch Program collects samples between sunrise and noon. Samples are generally collected about one foot below the surface in water that is knee deep (approximately two feet deep). If the majority of recreational activity occurs at a depth significantly different than two feet, then samples can be collected at the location of greatest swimmer activity. Also, if the two-foot sampling depth occurs more than 50 meters from shore, samples can be collected 50 meters from shore or at the location of greatest swimmer activity. Two or three samples are taken per sampling location. Sample results are available a minimum of 24 hours after the lab receives the sample. Routine sampling usually takes place on Tuesdays, with Mondays and Wednesdays as alternate sampling days. Results: For the third consecutive year, NRDC looked at the percent of monitoring samples that exceeded the state’s daily maximum bacterial standards. The percent of samples exceeding the standard increased to 9 percent in 2007 from 8 percent in 2006 and 9 percent in 2005.
Note: to make this three-year comparison, NRDC includes only those beaches reported in each of these three years.
The beaches with the highest percent exceedances in 2007 were Cole Park (44%), Ropes Park (38%), Emerald Beach (35%), and Poenisch Park in Nueces County (33%), Nueces Bay Causeway #4 in San Patricio (26%), Laguna Shores (26%), University Beach (23%), JFK Causeway-SW (20%), and McGee Beach in Nueces (19%),
and Texas City Dike in Galveston (18%).
Nueces County had the highest percent exceedance in 2007 (16%), followed by Aransas (15%), Galveston (9%), Kleberg (5%), Jefferson (4%), Brazoria (3%), Matagorda (2%), and Cameron (1%).
snip...see full text with county by county ;
>>>In the case of a known sewage spill, the decision to issue a preemptive closing or advisory would be made by local government.1 ???<<<
THANKS AGAIN THERE MAYOR WHITE, i want to thank you again for that wade in feces a few weeks ago outback in Galveston Bay, when some brilliant decision was made to flush a broken sewage pipe up in Buffalo Bayou, into Galveston Bay, probably the last time i go wade fishing. ...thanks mayor!
what do you have against your fellow neighbors down south of you???
i remember well when you dumped all of Houston on our interstate highways during the coastal evacuation from Hurricane Rita. now your dumping feces on us. next your probably be taking in the train loads of Thousands of metal cylinders of corrosive radioactive waste from THE MOUND weapons LAB, up in Miamisburg, Ohio. Thanks to your good buddy Governor Perry, who seems to want to turn TEXAS into the next BIG RADIOACTIVE DUMPING SITE, i look for those train loads to start rolling on in, if they are not here already. ...
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
TEXAS WINS TO BE NEXT BIG DUMPING GROUND FOR NUCLEAR WEAPONS RADIOACTIVE WASTE
Saturday, July 19, 2008 GALVESTON BAY, swimming with the dolphins, PCBs, and FECAL MATTER
GALVESTON BAY FISH CONSUMPTION WARNING DUE TO PCBs
Monday, July 14, 2008
Heedless practices of Texas industry and DREDGING OF SHIP CHANNEL, now
poisoning sport fishing industry, AND IT'S CONSUMERS