Methods for Determining Minimum Freshwater Inflow Needs of Texas Bays and Estuaries


In response to legislative directives beginning in 1975, the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) jointly established and currently maintain a data collection and analytical study program focused on determining the effects of and needs for freshwater inflows into the state's 10 bay and estuary systems. Study elements include hydrographic surveys, hydrodynamic modeling of circulation and salinity patterns, sediment analyses, nutrient analyses, fisheries analyses, freshwater inflow optimization modeling, and verification of needs. For determing the needs, statistical regression models are developed among freshwater inflows, salinities, and coastal fisheries. Results from the models and analyses are placed into the Texas Estuarine Mathematical Programming (TxEMP) model, along with information on salinity viability limits, nutrient budgets, fishery biomass ratios, and management objectives for maintenance of biological productivity and overall ecological health. Solution curves from the TxEMP model are verified by TWDB's hydrodynamic simulation of estuarine circulation and salinity structure, which is evaluated against TPWD's analysis of species abundance and distribution patterns in each bay and estuary system. An adequate system-wide match initially verifies the inflow solution. Long-term monitoring is recommended in order to verify that implementation of future water management strategies maintain ecological health of the estuaries and to provide an early warning of needs for adaptive management strategies.


pages 1262-1274


salinity, freshwater inflows