Legal assurances of adequate flows of fresh water into Texas Bays and estuaries to maintain proper salinity levels.




Johnson, C.W.

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Water in coastal bays, lagoons, and estuaries is a mixture of sea water, rain, and inflows from streams, groundwater and surface runoff. Increased water utilization, storage, reuse and interbasin transfers expectedly will reduce the volume of such inflows and alter the seawater-freshwater balance of these areas. Only with proper salinity balance can the unique biological characteristics of the estuarine zones be maintained. The Texas coast represents a significant 1800 miles of shoreline of which 1419 miles are bays and estuaries and another 373 miles faces the gulf. Water pollution, filling and dredging are the most immediate threats, as well as alteration of the salinity balance. The most immediate effects are felt by marine and estuarine life, as the fresh water inflow so often diverted contains many essential nutrients. Riparian rights are of little or no significance in assuring a proper fresh water flow to estuaries. Texas may be able to rely on the public trust doctrine as its vehicle, maintaining state ownership of tidal lands, waters and resources, in trust for the public's benefit. Although the judicial temperament towards such a policy is uncertain, it seems to have received favorable acceptance in many jurisdictions and eliminates the pitfalls encountered by attacking the problem via the reparian rights approach.


p. 598-640.


bays, estuaries, inflow, salinity