Preparing for Growth and Sustainable Development: Local Government Urban Planning Activities in the Galveston Bay Watershed




Mitchell, Gary

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Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission


With land development activity in the Galveston Bay watershed continuing on an unprecedented pace since the early 1990s, various local governments in the bay area are undertaking urban planning and land use management activities for the first time - or much more purposefully than in the past - to deal with the challenges of population growth and ongoing urbanization. As a regional planner for the Houston-Galveston Area Council (H-GAC) during the 1990s, the author also observed the increasing sophistication of many area cities and counties as their increasing population brought them greater resources and program capabilities, as a wider array of people became active in local government as elected officials, and as residents across the region became more environmentally aware and held higher expectations for neighborhood quality and resource protection, as confirmed by public opinion tracking throughout the decade.; The theme of this discussion was that basic urban planning and growth management activities are perhaps the most direct and lasting contributions that local governments in the bay area can make to the long-term conservation and enhancement of the Galveston Bay Estuary and its watershed. Certainly a key component of bay management is how the area's wastewater treatment systems are operated and maintained to limit point source pollution, with many of these facilities under the direct jurisdiction of area cities across the bay watershed. Local governments also have an important role to play in other management areas, such as promoting water conservation, enforcing illegal dumping laws, regulating septic tanks and other on-site wastewater systems, and reducing the environmental impacts of their own government construction projects and maintenance activities.


pgs. 176-184