Category: Planning & Management
Environmental flows describe the quality, quantity, and timing of freshwater inflows required to maintain the components, functions, processes, and resilience of downstream bay and estuarine resources. Knowledge of how estuarine resources relate to the condition of an estuary enables resource managers to determine optimal freshwater inflows for target and indicator species. Concern over the delivery and quantities of environmental flows within Texas prompted Texas Legislature to pass Senate Bill 3 (2007), a substantial change to Texas water policy from House Bill 2 (1985). Senate Bill 3 directed the use of an environmental flow regime in developing flow standards and defined a schedule of flow quantities that reflected seasonal and yearly fluctuations by specific location in a watershed, and were to be adequate to support a sound ecological environment. An adaptive management process was established whereby scientific and stakeholder groups were formed for seven individual river basin systems. These estuary/bay-focused groups independently devised their own strategy for determining the dynamics of recommended inflows for their river basin management system. Final Environmental Flow Recommendation Reports were created by each Science and Stakeholder teams and used to establish rules by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ). The purpose of this research is a comparative study of the Science Team Reports, the Stakeholder Team Reports, and the TCEQ Rules.
Elizabeth Del Rosario– PhD Student, Harte Research Institute Gulf of Mexico Studies - Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, Corpus Christi