Special Report on Houston Ship Channel Monitoring Program




Bates, Bert

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Texas Water Quality Board


The Houston Ship Channel is an area of intense interest with respect to water water quality. Frequent inquiries regarding its condition are received from diverse groups including industries, concerned citizens, environmental groups, school teachers, and students. In order to provide current and accurate information, the Water Quality Board is publishing herein water quality and biological data collected during the period July 1973 through June 1974. This information provides a fairly complete picture of the range of variation that is seen in Channel quality. The locations of all Water Quality Board monitoring stations, and of major industrial and municipal discharges, is given in Table I. Data from five representative sampling stations between Morgan's Point (Mile 0) and the Turning Basin (Mile 25), are sufficient to illustrate general conditions in the Ship Channel. Table II contains field measurements and laboratory results for water samples collected at depth of one foot (surface) and 40 feet. All values are expressed as milligrams/liter, essentially equivalent to parts/million, with the following exceptions: temperature (oF), pH (pH units), turbidity (Jackson Turbidity Units), conductivity (micromhs/cm), and coliform bacteria (Number/100 milliliters). The heavy metals results in Table III are based on samples collected by compositing water from the surface to the bottom. Plankton samples (Table IV) were collected at or near each of the five stations. Nekton, the animals that are larger and stronger swimmers than plankton, were collected at the intake screens of Diamond Shamrock, Deer Park Plant, and Houston Lighting and Power Company, Deepwater Plant (Table V). It is important to realize that the Houston Ship Channel is a dynamic estuarine system. At no time will precisely the same conditions prevail that were previously found at the same location. The dissolved oxygen concentration may be the same as it was yesterday, for instance, but never will the combination of temperature, conductivity, pH, and all other parameters be the same.


36 pages; available for download at the link below.


monitoring program, water quality