Revising the Plan to Protect Galveston Bay

Public Workshop Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Or Send Comments

Feb. 20, 2017

The Galveston Bay Estuary Program was established in 1989 to implement a comprehensive conservation plan for Galveston Bay. Established by the federal government and administered by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), the program’s goal is to “preserve Galveston Bay for generations to come.” It is one of two estuary programs in Texas and one of 28 programs nationwide protecting estuaries “of national significance.”

An estuary is “a partially enclosed, coastal water body where freshwater from rivers and streams mixes with salt water from the ocean. Estuaries, and their surrounding lands, are places of transition from land to sea. … Estuarine environments are among the most productive on earth.”

As the Environmental Protection Agency points out, “what happens on the land affects the quality of the water and health of the organisms that live in an estuary. … For example, if a river or stream … passes urbanized and suburbanized areas, it gathers substances such as:

  • fertilizers or pet waste that wash off lawns;
  • untreated sewage from failing septic tanks;
  • wastewater discharges from industrial facilities;
  • sediment from construction sites; and
  • runoff from impervious surfaces like parking lots.”

Houston Ship Channel, Buffalo Bayou. Photo by Jim Olive

Buffalo Bayou is the main river flowing through the center of Houston and emptying into Galveston Bay. Numerous other creeks and tributaries, including Brays, White Oak, and Sims bayous, flow into Buffalo Bayou, which becomes the Houston Ship Channel.

Updating the Galveston Bay Protection Plan

The 22-year-old Galveston Bay management plan is being revised. The Houston Sierra Club is urging the general public to attend a Wednesday afternoon workshop in La Marque to “provide input on how we can have a cleaner and more ecologically intact Galveston Bay.”

The March 1 workshop is being held from 2-4 p.m. at the Texas A&M Agrilife Extension-Galveston facility, 4102 B Main Street (FM 519) in La Marque.

But if you can’t make an afternoon workshop in the middle of the week, you can also send your comments to the TCEQ. Send them to Dr. Sarah Bernhardt, Program Manager, TCEQ, 17041 El Camino Real, Suite 210, Houston 77058-2646 or by email to

The Houston Sierra Club suggests making the following points at the workshop or in your comments:

1) Sea level rise and climate change must be addressed.

2) Upland watersheds connected to Galveston Bay must be part of the plan.

3) We must have awareness, support, and “political will” to address difficult issues.

4) We must work with coastal erosion/accretion processes and not against them.

5) Freshwater in-stream flows/inflows must be addressed better than they are now.

6) The Galveston Bay plan must be fully funded.

7) Important habitats and species (beaches, dunes, salt marshes, Mottled Ducks, etc.) must be protected and increased.

8) We need more federal, state, local, and private lands that permanently protect Galveston Bay ecosystems.

9) We must control non-native invasive species.

10) We must have a dedicated fund to buy coastal ecosystems.

11) Large proposed projects must be analyzed and addressed by the Galveston Bay plan so that all negative impacts are completely avoided, minimized, and or mitigated.

12) The Galveston Bay plan must, via education and public participation, address the need for a stewardship ethic.

13) Non-point source water pollution from roads/impervious surfaces must be controlled and water quality improved.

For additional information contact Brandt Mannchen of the Houston Sierra Club at 713-664-5962 or