Water quality trends in Texas estuaries

Highlights

• Estuarine water quality data indicates regional “hot spots” of change in Texas.

• Symptoms of eutrophication were found in Galveston Bay, Oso Bay, and Baffin Bay.

• Increasing salinity was observed in estuaries of the central Texas coast.

• Decreasing pH was observed in estuaries of the central Texas coast.

Abstract

Coastal watersheds in Texas have experienced significant human population growth over the past several decades, yet there have been no comprehensive assessments of water quality trends in Texas estuaries. Here, analysis of historical estuarine water quality data indicates regional “hot spots” of change. Galveston Bay and Oso Bay, which have highly urbanized watersheds, currently exhibit symptoms of eutrophication. Symptoms of eutrophication were also found in the Baffin Bay-Upper Laguna Madre complex, which has a sparsely populated but agriculturally-intensive watershed. Increasing salinity was observed in estuaries of the central Texas coast and are attributed to long-term decreases in freshwater inflow. Another artifact of decreasing freshwater inflow is a reduction in the delivery of carbonate minerals to estuaries, which manifests as decreases in pH. With findings from this study, targeted studies can now be directed at the estuaries that are experiencing water quality degradation in order to guide future management efforts.

Bugica K., Sterba-Boatwright B. & Wetz M. S., 2020. Water quality trends in Texas estuaries. Marine Pollution Bulletin 152: 110903. doi: 10.1016/j.marpolbul.2020.110903. Article.

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