Galveston Bay: test case of an estuary in crisis.
The Galveston Bay estuary's environmental crisis is reported. Long a major nursery area for shellfish and finfish, the bay's water quality has been severely degraded by rapid industrial and population growth. A 1914 decision to build the Houston Ship Channel has had far-reaching environmental effects. The industries and residential subdivisions which have grown up along the channel, dump raw sewage into it. This highly polluted water flows untreated into the bay. Shelldredging, water diversions and landfill encroachments have severely reduced the nursery marshlands and increased salinity. The U.S. Corps of Engineers proposed Wallisville Dam will further aggrevate these situations, threatening estuarial life. The Houston Lighting and Power Company's new facility will add thermal pollution to the bay's problems. Traditionally, the Texas state government has been insensitive to the water pollution problems of the state's few industrial-oriented municipalities. Thus, state water quality standards are low, but federally approved, and have never been enforced. The recent federal activity has prompted the hitherto dormant state water quality board to take the offensive for the first time in its histroy, and the establishment of the gulf coast waste disposal authority as a coordinating agency.