Watershed Issues

Over the next 30 years, areas that are currently undeveloped or lightly developed within the region provide the most promise in helping to sustain healthy water quality for the entire region. Watershed planning plays an integral role in ensuring good water quality in the future.

Some water quality imparements in Cedar Bayou include Bacteria, Dissolved Oxygen, Nutrients and Dioxin.

Watershed Issues Geography Goals and Results

Water Quality Impairments

Cedar Bayou currently faces a variety of water quality impairments,such as:

Bacteria, including Escherichia coli (E. coli), alone may not be harmful to people; however, their occurrence may indicate fecal matter or dangerous pathogens may be present.

Dissolved Oxygen (DO) indicates the amount of oxygen available in the water to sustain aquatic life. All water-borne species must have a minimum DO concentration to survive.

Nutrients in high concentrations can cause taste and odor problems in drinking water, as well as health issues. Nutrients can also lead to algae growth. Decomposing algae consume oxygen, threatening a water body’s aquatic population.

Dioxin is a general term used to describe a family of chemicals that are highly persistent in the environment. Dioxin has been shown to cause cancer, severe reproductive and developmental problems, damage the immune system, and interfere with endocrine systems. Dioxin is formed as an unintentional by-product of many industrial processes, chemical and pesticide manufacturing, and pulp and paper bleaching.

The Department of State Health Services has found Dioxin in fish tissue samples collected from various parts of the Houston Ship Channel and Galveston Bay. Subsequently, appropriate bans or advisories on fish consumption have been issued.

The San Jacinto River Waste Pits Superfund Site, located near I-10 and being managed by the US Environmental Protection Agency - Region 6, is a major source of dioxin.

The Impact of Development

Industrial and agricultural activity, in conjunction with increasing developmental pressures as the Houston area expands have led to the contaminants and indicators of concern listed in the previous section. As the area is at the nexus of developmental transition, it is experiencing contamination from both legacy and current sources. The current state of the waterway is negatively impacting the economic and environmental interests within its own boundary, as well as the greater Galveston Bay System.

Given the need to address appreciable impairments, protect critical wildlife areas, and protect economic and recreational interests in the watershed and adjoining water bodies, Cedar Bayou is uniquely poised to be an area where intervention can yield significant, tangible results.

Coordinating the Effort

There are several efforts in the area that are currently seeking to address these trends and issues.  The goals of these groups are compatible and complementary to the aims of a comprehensive Watershed Protection Plan effort, demonstrate the need for a coordinated watershed approach, and suggest there is existing resident concern and interest in watershed protection.

Chambers County has adopted and devised an Action Plan to implement the Chambers County Greenprint, a project to evaluate and address changing land use patterns. The Galveston Bay Plan, maintained by the Galveston Bay Estuary Program of the TCEQ, is an ongoing effort to address sources of contamination to the Galveston Bay System, to which Cedar Bayou (Tidal) is a direct input. The Friends of Cedar Bayou United is an existing stakeholder group who has worked to raise concern and foster education regarding water quality issues in the Cedar Bayou watershed.

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