Programmatic

Estuary Resilience Assessment

Estuary Resilience Assessment

CCMP Actions Implemented: SPO-2, SPO-3, SPO-4, RES-8, ACS-3
Grantee/Contractor: The GeoTechnology Research Institute through The Houston Advanced Research Center
Total Project Budget: $50,000
Project Period: September 2018 – February 2022
Project Description: The final output of this project will be a companion document to the Galveston Bay Plan and will provide resiliency adaptation considerations for implementers of the Galveston Bay Plan. The document will be developed in coordination with subject matter experts and/or members of the Galveston Bay Council and its subcommittees through workshops or existing meeting structures. The project will follow the requirements identified in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s National Estuary Program Funding Guidance Document.

State of the Bay, 4th Edition

State Of The Bay

CCMP Actions Implemented: PEA-1, ACS-1, ACS-2, ACS-3
Grantee/Contractor: The GeoTechnology Research Institute through The Houston Advanced Research Center
Total Project Budget: $85,000
Project Period: September 2017 – December 2020
Project Description: The updated State of the Bay Report will present a summary of Galveston Bay Plan implementation, research, and an analysis of the indicators and metrics available for Galveston Bay, based on acquired and quality-assured monitoring data from the Galveston Bay Status and Trends database and updated through calendar year 2017. To present a more user-friendly, accessible, and dynamic version of the State of the Bay report, the fourth edition of the State of the Bay Report will be developed as an easily updateable website and internet-available PDFs.

Regional Monitoring Database

Map of the sub-watersheds around Galveston Bay

CCMP Actions Implemented: ACS-1, ACS-2
Grantee/Contractor: Houston Advanced Research Center/GeoTechnology Research Institute
Total Project Budget: $350,228
Project Period: September 2020 – August 2025
Project Description: The Regional Monitoring Database will gather environmental datasets related to the lower Galveston Bay watershed in cooperation with federal, state, and local governments, as well as universities and research organizations, to evaluate progress in reaching a sustainable Galveston Bay ecosystem and identify gaps in monitoring programs. The Regional Monitoring Database will consist of an interactive, web-based application with data download capabilities and will be developed with input from stakeholders.

Public Participation and Education (PPE)

Trash Bash

Trash Bash
Photo provided by Gulf Coast Authority and H-GAC

CCMP Actions Implemented: SPO-1, SPO-3, PEA-1, PEA-2, PEA-3
Grantee/Contractor: The Houston-Galveston Area Council (H-GAC)
Total Project Budget: $35,000
Project Period: September 2019– August 2022
Project Description: This project supports Texas’s largest, single-day, volunteer-based waterway cleanup event—River, Lakes, Bays N’ Bayous Trash Bash®. Supporting the personnel costs of the Houston-Galveston Area Council regional coordinator for Trash Bash® ensures continuity throughout the process and consistency in planning and execution from year to year. Trash Bash planning is a year-round process and requires ongoing planning, maintenance, and attention every month.

Public Perception Assessment and Community-Based Social Marketing (CBSM) Campaigns to Enhance Conservation and Educational Outreach Programs

Houston Advanced Research Center logo

CCMP Actions Implemented: NPS-2, SPO-3, PEA-1, PEA-2, PEA-3
Grantee/Contractor: Houston Advanced Research Center/GeoTechnology Research Institute
Total Project Budget: $86,000
Project Period: September 2019 – August 2021
Project Description: The goal of the project is to use a community-centered approach to implement public outreach and education campaigns in the region. A public perception and awareness assessment will be conducted to identify communities and behaviors to target for three small outreach and education campaigns. Metrics will be developed to evaluate the success of each of the campaigns. The outcome of the campaigns and the public assessment and awareness information will be shared with stakeholders to demonstrate another approach to communicating with the public the importance of changing behaviors to conserve and protect Galveston Bay.

Texas Estuarine Resource Network (TERN) Program

Harris County Department of Education logo

CCMP Actions Implemented: SPO-2, SPO-3, PEA-3
Grantee/Contractor: Harris County Department of Education
Total Project Budget: $49,323
Project Period: September 2020 – August 2022
Project Description: Audubon Texas is partnering with the Harris County Department of Education. The project aims to engage local, underserved schools and communities within the Galveston Bay watershed in citizen science research concerning colonial waterbird foraging habitats within the school’s backyard. Teachers and students will develop an understanding of the scientific method, observational, and problem-solving skills through the study of conservation education and the collection of local bird data.

Microplastics in the Galveston Bay Watershed: The Big Impacts of Tiny Pollution

UHCL logo

CCMP Actions Implemented: NPS-2, SPO-3, PEA-1, PEA-2, PEA-3, RES-2, RES-3
Grantee/Contractor: University of Houston Clear Lake
Total Project Budget: $64,458
Project Period: September 2020 – May 2023
Project Description: This project expands an ongoing citizen science project with Florida SeaGrant and Mississippi State University looking at microplastics Gulf-wide. This project will expand the program to connect the entire Galveston Bay watershed. The project also includes watershed education opportunities for classrooms with lesson plans connecting students and schools to Galveston Bay throughout the region. Turtle Island Restoration Network will partner with the University of Houston Clear Lake to additionally characterize the spatial distribution of plastic debris along the bay shorelines.

Natural Resources Uses (NRU)

Clear Creek Riparian Restoration

Purple Pickerel Weed Blooming on 5/6/20, in an area where Elephant Ear removals were targeted previously during the project
Photo provided by Houston County Precinct 1

CCMP Actions Implemented: HC-2, HC-3, SC-1, SC-2, SPO-1
Grantee/Contractor: Harris County Precinct 1
Total Project Budget: $104,500
Project Period: September 2018 – August 2022
Project Description: The Clear Creek Riparian Restoration project aims to restore 45 acres of riparian forested areas along Clear Creek. Harris County Precinct 1, in partnership with the Bayou Preservation Association, will enhance habitat by performing invasive species removal at Challenger Seven Memorial Park in Harris County, Texas. Challenger Seven Memorial Park has extensive forested habitat (about 50 percent of the park’s 326 acres), with much of it experiencing degradation by invasive species. Project partners will focus on a riparian band of approximately 250 feet of forest along Clear Creek and its back bays.

Conservation Assistance Program (CAP)

Conservation Assistance Program

CCMP Actions Implemented: HC-1, HC-2, HC-3, SC-1, SC-2
Grantee/Contractor: Galveston Bay Foundation
Total Project Budget: $600,000
Project Period: September 2017 – August 2023
Project Description: The overall goal of the CAP is to support the Estuary Program and its partners’ efforts to preserve wetlands and other important coastal habitats to protect the long-term health and productivity of Galveston Bay. The CAP will continue to accomplish these goals by:

  • identifying priority conservation properties with the help and consensus of conservation partners;
  • building funding strategies through grant identification, grant writing, and fundraising;
  • working with willing sellers to negotiate fee simple or conservation easement transactions;
  • carrying out legal, title, and other due diligence transaction support; and
  • finalizing the sale and transfer of title to a third-party organization or government entity.

Green Infrastructure for Texas – Freshwater Wetland Restoration

Wetland plants in pots waiting to be planted.
Photo provide by Texas AgriLife

CCMP Actions Implemented: HC-2, HC-3, SC-1, SC-2, FWI-3
Grantee/Contractor: Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service
Total Project Budget: $120,146
Project Period: September 2017 – May 2021
Project Description: The goal of this project is to restore 320 acres of a fallow farm field to prime freshwater wet prairie habitat at the Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge in Chambers County, and conduct freshwater invasive species management at Armand Bayou Nature Center in Harris County, Texas.

Sylvan Rodriguez Habitat Restoration Project

Photo of Sylvan Workday participants in February 2020
Photo provided by the Houston Parks and Recreation Department

CCMP Actions Implemented: HC-2, HC-3, SC-1, SC-2, SPO-1
Grantee/Contractor: City of Houston Parks and Recreation Department
Total Project Budget: $100,000
Project Period: September 2019 – August 2021
Project Description: The Sylvan Rodriguez Habitat Restoration Project will restore 23 acres of forested habitat within Sylvan Rodriguez Park. Habitat will be enhanced in the lower Galveston Bay watershed by performing invasive species removal, planting native trees and shrubs, and the installation of 100 feet of boardwalk for public access. The project will utilize subcontractors, interns, and community volunteers to complete work.

Kemah Living Shoreline Habitat Protection and Restoration

Completed Breakwater looking towards the City of Kemah.
Photo provided by the Galveston Bay Foundation

CCMP Actions Implemented: HC-2, HC-3, SC-1, SPO-1
Grantee/Contractor: City of Kemah
Total Project Budget: $100,000
Project Period: September 2019 – August 2021
Project Description: The Kemah Living Shoreline Habitat Protection and Restoration Project aims to restore estuarine habitats, including estuarine intertidal marshes, while protecting coastal upland habitats on Galveston Bay in the City of Kemah, through the installation of rock/rip-rap wave breaks and native marsh vegetation. In partnership with the landowner, the Galveston Bay Foundation, and the City of Kemah will conduct a project to restore previously present native estuarine habitats that provide ecosystem functions, such as habitat for fish and wildlife, shoreline stabilization, water quality improvement, and flood protection.

The 6th Addition to the Coastal Heritage Preserve Through an Acquisition at Middle Tract, Galveston Island, Texas

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department logo

CCMP Actions Implemented: HC-1, SC-1
Grantee/Contractor: Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
Total Project Budget: $125,000
Project Period: September 2020 – May 2023
Project Description: This project aims to acquire funds to purchase and conserve approximately 45 acres of coastal habitat. The purchased tract would be added to and be managed as part of the Coastal Heritage Preserve. This project will conserve breeding, nesting, foraging, roosting, and wintering habitats that benefit numerous coastal-dependent and migratory bird species and protect coastal habitats that are breeding, nursery, juvenile and foraging habitat to marsh resident fishery species.

Monitoring and Research (M&R)

Nutrient and Sediment Monitoring of the Lower San Jacinto River

Collecting water data.

CCMP Actions Implemented: FWI-2, RES-3, ACS-2
Grantee/Contractor: United States Geological Survey (USGS)
Total Project Budget: $80,000
Project Period: September 2017 – May 2021
Project Description: To fully understand nutrient and sediment delivery into the estuary, the San Jacinto River, the second-largest inflow to Galveston Bay, needs to be characterized. To do this, the USGS will:

  • Install an index-velocity meter on the San Jacinto River and measure discharge during various flow conditions;
  • Collect water quality samples from the San Jacinto River over a range of hydrologic conditions to better understand the variability of nutrient and sediment concentrations in freshwater inflows; and
  • Evaluate the potential for developing continuous regression models based on surrogate parameters to estimate nutrient and sediment concentrations in the San Jacinto River.

Galveston Bay Intertidal Oyster Reef Mapping and Analysis

Scientists measuring oyster reef metrics.

CCMP Actions Implemented: SC-1, RES-1, RES-3, ACS-2
Grantee/Contractor: University of Houston
Total Project Budget: $64,883
Project Period: September 2018 – January 2021
Project Description: This project seeks to create a complete GIS database of oyster reef habitat in Galveston Bay while simultaneously assessing intertidal oyster population dynamics and community structure on selected reefs. Intertidal oyster shell reef locations in Galveston Bay have not been mapped on a large scale in the last 20 years. After obtaining GIS files of possible reef locations, ground-truthing will be conducted on a sample of locations to validate the analysis and collect current elevation data. On a sample of the mapped intertidal reefs, oyster health and population characteristics will be assessed. Additionally, the benthic associated macrofauna will be excavated and community composition determined. This community analysis will not only indicate the value of Galveston Bay intertidal reefs as habitat but also provide a relative indication of the value of this habitat type for mobile nekton and birds.

Characterizing PCBs and Dioxins in the Houston Ship Channel and Galveston Bay Post Harvey

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CCMP Actions Implemented: RES-2, RES-5
Grantee/Contractor: University of Houston
Total Project Budget: $60,000
Project Period: September 2019 – August 2021
Project Description: Two observations after Hurricane Harvey motivate this study: (i) some parts of the Houston Ship Channel and Galveston Bay exhibited higher sediment concentrations of dioxin and PCBs after the hurricane relative to historic levels, and (ii) it has been reported that the protective cap on the San Jacinto River Waste Pits site incurred failures during the hurricane, potentially exposing waste material in the pits to the San Jacinto River waters. The main goal for this study is to expand the sampling scope beyond the five-mile limit of a previous Galveston Bay Foundation fish and crab dioxin and PCB study to encompass the remainder of the Houston Ship Channel and Galveston Bay system as applicable and appropriate.

Heavy Metals and Lead Isotopes in Galveston Bay Waters, Sediments and Oysters

Image of scientists collecting a sediment sample.
Photo provided by Texas A&M University Geosciences Communications

CCMP Actions Implemented: RES-2, RES-5
Grantee/Contractor: University of Houston
Total Project Budget: $133,668
Project Period: September 2019 – August 2021
Project Description: Galveston Bay is an anthropogenic estuary, where industrial runoff, wastewater, and shipping oil enter the bay in incoming freshwaters. These polluted freshwaters can contain heavy metals, either dissolved in the waters or absorbed onto inflowing sediments, which can be toxic for humans and pelagic/benthic communities in the bay. Together lead isotope and heavy metal concentration data will highlight areas with elevated pollutant levels and provide insight into pollutant mobility. This study proposes lead isotope compositions and heavy metal concentrations be determined for Galveston Bay waters, sediments, and oysters to evaluate the toxicity of the bay and identify types of industrial pollution sources.

Galveston Bay Oyster Microplastics: Baselines and Impacts

Texas A&M University at Galveston Logo

CCMP Actions Implemented: NPS-2, PEA-1, PEA-3, RES-3
Grantee/Contractor: Texas A&M University at Galveston
Total Project Budget: $90,427
Project Period: September 2020 – May 2022
Project Description: The project aims to quantify (per gram of living tissue) types and amounts of microplastics in Galveston Bay oysters. Researchers will concurrently sample surface water for microplastics to determine whether oysters are selectively filtering or retaining certain types. Project researchers will also examine variation across major bay regions, as well as any relationship between microplastics loads and oyster physiological condition. Researchers will coordinate with other GBEP project leaders to align sampling locations so that findings can be linked spatially.

The Effect of Microplastic on the Base of Marine Food Webs

Texas A&M University at Galveston Logo

CCMP Actions Implemented: RES-2, RES-3
Grantee/Contractor: Texas A&M University at Galveston
Total Project Budget: $36,939
Project Period: September 2020 – May 2022
Project Description: The project aims to 1) investigate how microplastic exposure affects physiological and swimming performance in filter-feeding (clupeid) fishes (this study = gulf menhaden and bay anchovies), and 2) investigate the trend of plastic accumulation in filter-feeding fishes in Galveston Bay over the last 77 years using a Galveston Bay specific collection at Texas A&M University. Clupeid fishes hold importance at the base of marine food webs and are particularly susceptible to microplastic pollution due to their feeding mode.

The Distribution, Fate, and Transport of Emerging Contaminants in Galveston Bay

Texas A&M University logo

CCMP Actions Implemented: RES-2
Grantee/Contractor: Texas A&M University
Total Project Budget: $98,428
Project Period: September 2020 – December 2022
Project Description: The project aims to conduct quarterly field observations over two years in Galveston Bay to understand the distribution, fate, and transport of a group of emerging contaminants, including per-and polyfluorinated alkyl substances (PFAS) and pharmaceutical and personal care products (PPCP) in water and sediment. The project will extend a currently funded quarterly time series beginning in June 2017 to five years.

Water and Sediment Quality (WSQ)

Highland Bayou Watershed Protection Plan (WPP)

Highland Bayou Watershed Protection Plan
Photo by Valeria Rodriguez, TCWP

CCMP Actions Implemented: NPS-1, NPS-2, NPS-3, NPS-4, PHA-3, SPO-2
Grantee/Contractor: Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, Texas Coastal Watershed Program
Total Project Budget: $68,392
Project Period: September 2018 – December 2020
Project Description: Highland and Marchand bayous sometimes experience periods of low dissolved oxygen and high bacteria levels, which can result in adverse wildlife habitat conditions and can be harmful to human health. All the state’s assessments since 2002 have classified multiple segments within Highland Bayou and Marchand Bayou as impaired for these constituents of concern. The goal of this project is to update the Highland Bayou WPP to include load reduction estimates which incorporate flow data for both bacteria and dissolved oxygen, and to shepherd the WPP through the TCEQ and EPA Region 6 approval process.

Coordinating Implementation of a Watershed Protection Plan (WPP) for Double Bayou

Houston Advanced Research Center logo

CCMP Actions Implemented: NPS-1, NPS-2, NPS-3, NPS-4, PS-2, PS-3, PHA-1, SPO-2, SPO-4, RES-1
Grantee/Contractor: Houston Advanced Research Center
Total Project Budget: $95,037
Project Period: September 2017 – May 2021
Project Description: This project will fund water quality data analysis efforts, maintain stakeholder efforts, and begin implementation of the WPP. Continuing these efforts is critical to effectively bridging the gap between projects that developed the Double Bayou WPP and beginning WPP implementation efforts.

Targeted Bacteria Monitoring Project

TX Agrilife Extension Logo

CCMP Actions Implemented: NPS-1, NPS-2, NPS-3, PS-2, PS-3, SPO-1, SPO-4,
PEA-1, PEA-2, RES-4
Grantee/Contractor: Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, Texas Water Resources Institute
Total Project Budget: $80,000
Project Period: September 2019 – August 2022
Project Description: The goal of the Targeted Bacteria Monitoring Project is to reduce bacteria concentrations in impaired streams in the Bacteria Implementation Group (BIG) project area. The objectives are to: (1) investigate bacteria sources in the most bacteria-impaired waterways in the BIG project area; and (2) work with local jurisdictions to reduce or eliminate those sources. This project focuses only on the most impaired assessment units with the aim to identify relative differences in bacteria levels for the purpose of narrowing down geographic locations of potential sources. When potential sources are identified, the information will be passed on to local authorities in a targeted monitoring report.

Occurrence of Microplastics in Tributaries to Galveston Bay

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CCMP Actions Implemented: NPS-1, PS-1, RES-2, RES-3, SPO-4
Grantee/Contractor: United States Geological Survey
Total Project Budget: $75,000
Project Period: September 2019 – August 2021
Project Description: Litter and trash, such as plastics, is an issue of concern in Galveston Bay and its tributaries. Microplastics, which are plastic particles less than five mm in diameter, are of increasing concern. These small particles, which are derived from degradation or mechanical breakdown of larger plastic objects or particles, are introduced to waterways through urban runoff and wastewater effluent. The goal of this project is to quantify and categorize microplastics in select watersheds draining to Galveston Bay. To date, no studies that assess the occurrence and abundance of microplastics in the tributaries of Galveston Bay have been published. Data collected for this project will contribute to providing a baseline assessment that can serve as the foundation for future study and abatement.

Baseline Assessment of Microplastics in Galveston Bay

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CCMP Actions Implemented: NPS-1, PS-1, RES-2, RES-3, SPO-4
Grantee/Contractor: United States Geological Survey
Total Project Budget: $90,000
Project Period: September 2020 – May 2023
Project Description: This study will contribute data to the Occurrence of Microplastics in Tributaries to Galveston Bay project and to other partner projects. This project will assess microplastics in the open waters of the Galveston Bay complex. These baseline studies will provide information about the spatial distribution and concentrations of microplastics in the Galveston Bay watershed.

Outreach Implementation for Galveston Bay Watershed Water Quality Projects

Houston-Galveston Area Council logo

CCMP Actions Implemented: NPS-1, NPS-2, PS-1, PS-2, SPO-2, SPO-4
Grantee/Contractor: Houston-Galveston Area Council
Total Project Budget: $40,000
Project Period: September 2020 – August 2021
Project Description: The primary focus of this project is to reduce bacteria levels through education and outreach about pet waste, fats, oils, and grease, litter and illegal dumping, and on-site sewage facility maintenance. The funding will support salary, travel, and outreach materials to implement existing watershed protection plans and other watershed-based plans in their respective areas, while providing a unified regional approach easily adaptable to each specific plan. This funding will allow for a fourth year of outreach, to capitalize on relationships that have been slowly built and nourished over three years under a 319 nonpoint source program grant.

Pictures without a credit are either taken by Estuary Program staff or are free-use images from Wikipedia commons.

Shorthand Summary of the Action Items of The Galveston Bay Plan, 2nd Edition (2018)

ENSURE SAFE HUMAN AND AQUATIC LIFE USE

Improve Water Quality Through Nonpoint Source Pollution (NPS)
NPS-1 Support Watershed-Based Plan Development and Implementation
NPS-2 Support Nonpoint Source Education and Outreach Campaigns
NPS-3 Implement NPS Best Management Practices
NPS-4 Host Nonpoint Source Workshops

Improve Water Quality Through Point Source Pollution Abatement (PS)
PS-1 Support Stormwater Education Programs
PS-2 Achieve Sanitary Sewer System Capacity and Integrity
PS-3 Increase Wastewater Treatment Facility Compliance

Promote Public Health and Awareness (PHA)
PHA-1 Improve Seafood Advisory Awareness
PHA-2 Improve Regional Contact Recreation Risk Awareness
PHA-3 Improve Contact Recreation Safety Through Watershed-Based Plans (WBPs)
PHA-4 Improve Shellfish Consumption Safety Through WBPs
PHA-5 Improve Finfish Consumption Safety Through WBPs

PROTECT AND SUSTAIN LIVING RESOURCES

Support Habitat Conservation (HC)
HC-1 Land Acquisition
HC-2 Habitat Restoration
HC-3 Habitat Enhancement

Support Species Conservation (SC)
SC-1 Native Species Management
SC-2 Invasive Species Control

Sustain Freshwater Inflows (FWI)
FWI-1 Regional Planning for Freshwater Inflows
FWI-2 Freshwater Inflows Research and Management
FWI-3 Water Conservation and Education

ENGAGE COMMUNITIES

Preserve Galveston Bay Through Stakeholder and Partner Outreach (SPO)
SPO-1 Stewardship Programs and Volunteer Opportunities
SPO-2 Workshops and Events
SPO-3 Support Regional Initiatives
SPO-4 Local Government Outreach

Support Public Education and Awareness Initiatives (PEA)
PEA-1 Key Issue Engagement
PEA-2 Adult Education
PEA-3 Kindergarten to 12thGrade (K-12) Education Efforts

INFORM SCIENCE-BASED DECISION MAKING

Collaborate with Research Institutions to Support Focus Area Applied Research and Monitoring (RES)
RES-1 Conduct Biological Stressor Monitoring and Research
RES-2 Conduct Geochemical Stressor Monitoring and Research
RES-3 Conduct Physical Stressor Monitoring and Research
RES-4 Conduct Monitoring and Research to Address Limits to Contact Recreation
RES-5 Conduct Monitoring and Research to Address Limits to Seafood Consumption
RES-6 Evaluate Best Management Practice (BMP) Projects
RES-7 Conduct Research on Ecosystem Service and Economic Valuation of Bay Resources
RES-8 Complete Coastal Resiliency and Acclimation Studies

Increase Access to Galveston Bay Ecosystem Information (ACS)
ACS-1 Tracking Ecosystem Health Indicators
ACS-2 Access to Monitoring and Research Data
ACS-3 Track Galveston Bay Plan Implementation