Trends in Selected Water Quality Parameters for the Houston Ship Channel



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United States Environmental Protection Agency


While many believe water quality in the Houston Ship Channel is improving, water quality trends have not been adequately verified and documented. An investigation was made utilizing ambient monitoring data to make inferences on water quality trends for selected parameters. Twenty-one water quality parameters were assessed including conventional parameters (DO, TSS, fecal coliforms, BOD and TOC), nutrients (ammonia, nitrate, nitrite, Kjeldhal nitrogen, orthophospate and total phosphate), and heavy metals (arsenic, cadmium, chromium, copper, lead, mercury, nickel, selenium, silver and zinc). In addition, heavy metals and PCBs in sediment are mentioned, although data are more limited for these parameters. Concentrations over the last 10-20 years were plotted, and assessed over time using statistical correlation (Pearson, Spearman and Kendall tau-b correlations). The primary database used was the Texas Water Commission state monitoring network (SMN) data. The five Ship Channel stations assessed are located at Morgans Point at the mouth, proceeding upstream to Channel Marker 120, San Jacinto Monument, at the Greens Bayou confluence, and the turning basin (the upstream extent of the Ship Channel).


2 volumes; Report - 35 pages; Appendices - 155 pages.


water quality, Houston Ship Channel, Texas, Galveston Bay, Texas