Wednesday, July 8, 2009

DSHS Issues Fish Advisory for Clear Creek DO NOT EAT ANY FISH !

Texas Department of State Health Services NEWS RELEASE July 8, 2009

DSHS Issues Fish Advisory for Clear Creek

The Texas Department of State Health Services has issued an advisory warning people not to consume any species of fish from Clear Creek. The creek runs through parts of Brazoria, Fort Bend, Galveston and Harris counties.

The advisory was issued after laboratory testing showed elevated levels of polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, in fish samples collected from the creek.

DSHS tested tissue samples from seven species of fish as part of a reevaluation of the creek. The creek previously was under a 1993 advisory for elevated levels of volatile organic compounds. That advisory was lifted in 2001.

Long-term consumption of PCBs may cause cancer and reproductive, immune system, developmental and liver problems. According to DSHS standards, PCB levels in fish above 0.047 parts per million (ppm) may pose a health risk to humans. PCB levels in the most recent Clear Creek samples averaged 0.100 ppm and were as high as 0.676 ppm.

PCBs are industrial chemicals once used as coolants and lubricants in electrical transformers and capacitors. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency banned PCBs in 1979, but items containing PCBs did not have to be replaced. PCBs degrade slowly in the environment.

Elevated levels of PCBs in fish do not pose a health risk for people swimming, fishing or participating in other water recreation activities in Clear Creek.

A July 2008 advisory remains in place for Galveston Bay and its contiguous waters, including Clear Creek, due to elevated levels of dioxins and PCBs in spotted sea trout and catfish.


(News Media Contact: Carrie Williams, DSHS Assistant Press Officer, 512-458-7400.)

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Copyright © 2009 Published by Elsevier Ltd.

Water quality in the Dickinson Bayou watershed (Texas, Gulf of Mexico) and health issues

References and further reading may be available for this article. To view references and further reading you must purchase this article.

Antonietta Quigga, b, , , Linda Broachc, 1, , Winston Dentond, 2, and Roger Mirandae, 3,

aDepartment of Marine Biology, Texas A&M University at Galveston, 5007 Avenue U, Galveston, TX 77551, United States

bDepartment of Oceanography, Texas A&M University, 3146 TAMU, College Station, TX 77843, United States

cTexas Commission on Environmental Quality, 5425 Polk Avenue, Suite H, Houston, TX 77023, United States

dCoastal Fisheries Division, Texas Parks and Wildlife Dickinson Department, 1502 FM 517 East, Dickinson, TX 77539, United States

eTexas Commission on Environmental Quality, 1200 Park 35 Circle, Austin, TX 78711, United States

Available online 24 February 2009.

Abstract The Dickinson Bayou watershed (near Houston, Texas, Gulf of Mexico) provides habitat for numerous coastally influenced communities of wildlife, including scores of birds and fish. Encroaching development and impervious surfaces are altering the habitat and degrading water quality. Herein we have defined the current health of the bayou using water quality data collected between 2000 and 2006. Elevated bacteria (fecal coliform, Escherichia coli and Enterococcus) and depressed dissolved oxygen concentrations (often <3 mg l-1) are the two major impairments to this ecosystem. While nutrient ratios indicate primary productivity may be nitrogen limited, concerns of eutrophication persist because the bayou has a low intrinsic flushing rate. Consistent with this is the magnitude of algal blooms (ca. 100 µg chl l-1) which often occur in spring/summer. The findings of this study will assist with the understanding of the influence of urban development on small watersheds. Keywords: Bacteria; Ecosystem management; Environmental monitoring; Eutrophication; Low dissolved oxygen; Nitrogen; Nutrients Article Outline 1. Introduction 1.1. Study area 2. Methods 3. Results 3.1. Air temperature and rainfall 3.2. Salinity and dissolved oxygen concentrations 3.3. Chlorophyll and nutrients 3.4. Bacteria 4. Discussion Acknowledgements References Fig. 1. The Dickinson Bayou watershed is located within the San Jacinto–Brazos Coastal Basin at 29°29' N, 95°14' W, 45 km southeast of Houston, Texas.

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Fig. 2. Average monthly (A) air temperature (°C) and (B) rainfall (cm) in the DBW between 2000 and 2006. Error bars represent standard deviations. (C) Annual rainfall (cm) is subject to cyclic patterns and perturbations due to tropical storms.

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Fig. 3. Average water column salinities (‰) measured between 2000 and 2006 from Dickinson Bay (0 km; SH I46) to the upper reach of the tidal portion of Dickinson Bayou. The averages are presented with minimums (lower bars) and maximums (higher bars). A log scale was used to show the range across the bayou.

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Fig. 4. Average (24 h) DO concentrations (mg l-1) measured between 2000 and 2006 from Dickinson Bay (0 km; SH I46) to the upper reach of the tidal portion of Dickinson Bayou. (A) Surface DO was typically 6.1 mg l-1 along the length of the bayou with minimum DO’s (bottom bar) ranging from 0.6-2.8 mg l-1 and maximums (top bar) from 7.9–19 mg l-1. (B) DO at >1 m depth was typically 3.5 mg l-1 in the bayou with minimums (bottom bar) ranging from 0.1–1.0 mg l-1 and maximums (top bar) from 8.2–9.8 mg l-1. (C) Exceedances refer to the measurement of instantaneous DO concentrations of 3 mg l-1. The fraction of exceedances in surface (1 m) waters (white bars) was less than those in deep (>1 m) waters (black bars). The greatest fraction of exceedances occurred in the tidal segment of the bayou between Gum Bayou (6.4 km) and Cemetery Road (19.7 km).

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Fig. 5. Seasonal patterns in DO concentrations varied as a function of water depth. Surface waters were those at 1 m (A) while deep waters were those at >1 m (B). October to April represent the cool months (white bars) while May to September are the warm months (black bars), respectively.

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Fig. 6. Percentage exceedances of fecal coliform measured between 2000 and 2006 from Dickinson Bay (0 km; SH I46) to the above tidal portion of Dickinson Bayou. The main stem of the bayou (white bars) in general, had fewer exceedances than the tributaries (black bars).

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Table 1. Summary of sampling sites visited on a regular basis between 2000 and 2006. The distances inland were calculated relative to Dickinson Bay at SHI46 (see Fig. 1). Segment, latitude, longitude, and a brief description are included for reference. Tributaries are in italics.

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Table 2. Average chlorophyll concentrations (µg l-1) measured between 2000 and 2006 from Dickinson Bay to the upper reach of the tidal region. No data is available for above the tidal reach. Values presented here are the median chlorophyll concentrations (i.e., chl a plus phaeophytin). The range and number of samples (N) examined is also included. Tributaries are in italics.

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Table 3. Total nutrient concentrations (mg l-1) in the water column of Dickinson Bayou, based on a sample size (N), collected between 2000 and 2006. The range (min–max) was included to show the variability. Tributaries are in italics.

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Table 4. Bacterial counts in the surface waters of Dickinson Bayou. Minimum and maximum values generally (but not always) reflect the lower and upper detection limits for these tests and so were not included. Rather the % of samples that exceeded the criteria (%E) were included as well as the number of samples (N) measured. Fecal coliform was measured at all stations while Enterococcus was only measured in the tidal segment and E. coli only in the above tidal segment. Tributaries are in italics.

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Corresponding author. Tel.: +1 409 740 4990; fax: +1 409 740 5001. 1 Tel.: +1 713 767 3579. 2 Tel.: +1 281 534 0138. 3 Tel.: +1 512 239 6278. Sponsored Links 24-7 Emergency On Call Water Damage Restoration - Direct Insurance Bill. Call 281-537-8379

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DID not really surprise me. if you can't eat fish and crabs from Galveston bay due to these PCBs, did anyone really expect them not to be in our bayous ???

now the gum bayou waste dumping proposal all for a buck $$$ i.e. developers, to create tons of treated crap in a bayou already contaminated ???

now that's what i call science, but i assure you, they will buy the best junk science they can buy, to say that Dickinson Bayou will be o.k. $$$

they need the tax base.

add it all up, and it's nothing more than money. for ANY of our elected officials to go along with this blatant act of neglect to the environment and it's existing people around Gum bayou, they should be voted out of office. THERE IS NO VALID EXCUSE FOR THIS OTHER THAN MONEY $$$

our bay and bayous will be dead soon, as the approaching dead zone to galveston bay gets even closer.


State approves contested sewage plant permit

By Chris Paschenko The Daily News Published April 20, 2009

DICKINSON — A four-year, grass-roots effort opposing a wastewater treatment plant failed when state environmental regulators deemed the release of 500,000 gallons of treated effluent into Gum Bayou posed no environmental risk.

The city of Dickinson and residents of the Tropical Garden’s subdivision contested the permit sought by Marlin Atlantis White, the developer of record, to build a sewage treatment plant that, in its final phase, could release up to 500,000 gallons a day of treated sewage into Gum Bayou. Gum Bayou drains into Dickinson Bayou, which is listed by the state as an impaired tidewater, having low oxygen and high bacteria levels.

The plant would service a proposed 1,300-home subdivision near Gum Bayou and FM 517 in Texas City.

In Austin on April 8, Craig R. Bennett, an administrative law judge with the State Office of Administrative Hearings, told a panel of three commissioners with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality that there was no evidence the plant would endanger human health, aquatic life or the environment.

Bacteria Study Ignored

The state’s evidence, presented in a three-day hearing in Galveston in September, was generated through modeling of Gum Bayou.

Those opposed to the plant argued the state didn’t adequately measure the depth of Gum Bayou, nor did the commission consider its own preliminary study that found high elevations of bacteria present in Dickinson Bayou.

In deeming Gum Bayou eligible for the plant, Mark A. Rudolph, an engineer for the commission testifying in Galveston, said he relied on aerial photographs and professional judgment to determine the bayou’s depth and width, which are factors in determining whether the state would permit the plant.

The commission also refused to consider its own preliminary bacteria study, which it released in March. The draft shows elevated E. coli and enterococci bacteria levels in the majority of Dickinson Bayou monitoring stations nearly 90 percent of the time.

High levels of E. coli and enterococci are indicators of the presence of fecal matter in the water. Rudolph testified that the state couldn’t use the data because neither the state nor the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency have finalized the draft, which could take another three years. Rudolph testified the bacteria modeling would have forced the commission to use an outside consultant and would have been a budgeting issue.

The commission, however, upheld Bennett’s recommendation and issued the permit with some exceptions. The permit, which expires Sept. 1, 2013, requires the plant to be closed if and when a regional plant comes online.

Residents Ask Governor For Delay

Peggy Wright, a resident of Tropical Gardens, dedicated three years of her life fighting the permit for the plant that would drain near her subdivision. She attended last week’s hearing in Austin and said the governor’s office didn’t respond to signed petitions or requests for intervention.

“We’re below the outfall and all the potential problems it could bring,” Wright said. “We still feel, myself personally, it could serve as a quasi plant for other developers.”

Val Perkins, attorney for the developer of record, argued in September that the state can’t ask developers to put projects on hold until draft studies are confirmed.

The state is expected to issue the permit in 30 to 45 days, Perkins said.

“When we get it, we will be enabled to commence with the development, but I don’t know what the development plans are for the property right now.” Perkins said.

Whether the slowing of the housing market nationally will affect the development is unknown. Perkins is unaware of a timetable for the development.

“It’s certainly true nationally, but I don’t presume to know what the markets might be,” Perkins said. “I will say, generally, housing projects that have financing are moving forward.”

Sewer plant opponents set up legal fight fund

By T.J. Aulds The Daily News Published July 7, 2009

DICKINSON — Residents battling a planned wastewater treatment plant near a bayou along the city limits of Dickinson and Texas City have set up a legal fund to fight the plan in court.

Now they just need an attorney who will take the case.

The plant would serve a proposed 1,300-home subdivision near Gum Bayou and FM 517 in Texas City.

The residents of the Tropical Gardens subdivision contested the permit sought by developer Marlin Atlantis to build the sewage treatment plant that could release up to 500,000 gallons a day of treated sewage into Gum Bayou. The bayou drains into Dickinson Bayou, which is listed by the state as an impaired tidewater, with low levels of oxygen and high levels of bacteria.

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality in April approved the developer’s application to build the plant. The city of Dickinson, which had opposed the plant’s construction, narrowly voted against appealing that decision.

However, Bridget Long and other area residents plan to keep up the fight. She claims the application was flawed and that a study on bacteria levels in Gum Bayou was ignored.

Last week, Long set up a legal fund account at the Regents Bank in Dickinson with hopes of appealing the state’s decision in court. The problem is finding a lawyer who will take on the case, Long said. She said the group planned to contact the Galveston Bay Foundation to see what help that environmental group could offer.


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