Intensive survey of segment 1013--Buffalo Bayou tidal and segment 1014--Buffalo Bayou above tidal: July 15-17, 1985, May 13-15, 1986: hydrology, field measurements, water chemistry, reaeration rates, benthic macroinvertebrates, phytoplankton, zooplankton, nekton, riparian vegetation, and fecal coliforms




Kirkpatrick, J.S.

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Texas Water Commission


Intensive surveys of Buffalo Bayou Segment 1014 (above tidal) and segment 1013 (tidal) were conducted July 15-18, 1985 (field data, hydrology, water chemistry, biological data, fecal coliforms) and May 12-15, 1986 (field data, water chemistry, hydrology, reaeration data). Buffalo Bayou is a major stream in the Houston area which receives numerous wastewater discharges (135 into both segments). Primary uses of the bayou include drainage and non-contact recreation. Segment 1014 is designated as limited quality aquatic habitat. Low flows are partly sustained by drainage from irrigated lands, but mostly by treated sewage effluents from Houston and its suburbs. One of 48 dissolved oxygen measurements was below the 3.0 mg/L criterion in Segment 1014. Two of 12 vertically averaged dissolved oxygen levels in Segment 1013 were below the 2.0 mg/L criterion. All temperature and pH measurements were within the designated criteria for both segments. Chloride, sulfate and total dissolved solids of Segment 1014 did not indicate any problem areas. Carbonaceous BOD5, inorganic nitrogen and phosphorus levels were discharged to it. Chemical quality of the tributaries was fair. Houston's West District WWTP had the most significant impact on water quality and biological conditions of any wastewater discharge. Chlorine residuals of all wastewater discharges were excessive. Stream discharge increased from 44.5 ft3/s at Station A to 108 ft3/s, and the four measured wastewater discharges accounted for 46.7 ft3/s. Discharge in May 1986 increased from 15.9 ft3/s at Station CA to 89.6 ft3/s at Station M. Stream width and depth of Buffalo Bayou increased from the headwaters area (36 feet wide, 1 foot deep) to the lower end of the tidal portion (121 feet wide, 11 feet deep). Stream velocity averaged about 0.62 ft/s, ranging from 0.39 to 1.1 ft/s. Reaeration rates ranged from 0.0884 to 1.6273 per day. Benthic macroinvertebrates data showed that six miles (25%) of the upper part of Segment 1014 are presently exceeding the aquatic life use designation, and 7.3 miles (31%) are not meeting the limited aquatic life use designation, due mainly to chlorine toxicity and secondarily to organic enrichment and chronic ammonia toxicity downstream from Houston's West District WWTP. Phytoplankton, zooplankton and nekton data showed pollution-tolerant types of organisms were the most common inhabitants of Segment 1014. Populations of these organisms were virtually eliminated by chlorine emanating from the Houston West District WWRP. Emergent, floating -leaved, and submersed macrophytes were not observed in Segment 1014. Riparian vegetation was quite variable. The biological components of Segment 1013 are severely depressed due to poor water quality and other environmental conditions. Fecal coliform concentrations were generally high throughout both segments of the bayou.


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hydrology; water chemistry; biological data; water use; wastewater; water treatment