The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and stakeholders have developed a plan to improve water quality in the upper half of Carancahua Bay.
High concentrations of bacteria, including more than 3.5 times the mean standard for Enterococci, has been found in the waters since 2006, according to a report from the federal agency.
These bacterias might pose a health risk to people who swim or wade in the water.
The federal Clean Water Act requires states to identify waters that do not meet or are not expected to meet water standards and develop a total maximum daily load, or TMDL, for each pollutant that impairs a body of water.
A TMDL determines the amount of a particular pollutant that a water body can receive and still meet water quality standards.
An implement plan, commonly referred to as the I-plan, is also developed to identify and reduce sources of pollution.
Unregulated sources, such as wildlife, feral and agricultural animals, agriculture activities, land application fields, urban runoff not covered by a permit, failing on-site sewage facilities and domestic pets are the most likely sources of bacteria loadings in the upper segment of the bay during high flow conditions, TCEQ said.
Bacteria loadings occurring under lower flow conditions are expected to stem from wildlife, feral animals and livestock.
I-plan management measures for the upper half of Carancahua Bay, include repairing or replacing failing on-site sewage facilities, developing an inspection program for on-site sewage facilities, promoting feral hog removal, effective pest waste management and restoring oyster and coastal wetland habitat.
The implementation plan will involve several stakeholders, including Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, the Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board, local soil and water and conservation distances and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service.
TCEQ is inviting the public to comment about both the TMDL and implementation plan until Tuesday. A virtual public meeting occurred last week regarding the project, during which no public comments were made.
After the public comment period closes, the project will be added to the TCEQ Commissioners’ agenda for adoption, then submitted to the Environmental Protection Agency for approval.
From there, the project will begin.