The State of Texas currently requires water quality in various parts of the Houston Ship Channel and Upper Galveston Bay to be suitable for contact and noncontact recreation, fishing, navigation, industrial water supply, and aquatic life; however, not all of these segments are required to support all of these uses. Fishing is not supported in the area as a result of a seafood consumption advisory (ADV-3) for catfish and blue crab issued September 1990 by the Department of State Health Services (DSHS). The advisory was issued to protect consumers from adverse health effects caused by dioxin found in specimens analyzed from the area. Dioxin is a generic term for a suite of toxic and environmentally persistent compounds.
Subsequently, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) were detected in fish tissue, and the DSHS issued consumption advisory ADV-20 in October 2001, for all species of finfish in much of the Houston Ship Channel. In January 2005, the DSHS issued another advisory related to PCBs, ADV-28, for speckled trout, also known as spotted seatrout or spotted weakfish, in Upper Galveston Bay and a large percentage of the Houston Ship Channel. An additional advisory, ADV-35, for gafftopsail catfish and speckled trout in Galveston Bay was issued in 2008 for dioxin and PCBs. More information about seafood advisories can be found on the DSHS website.
In response to these conditions, two total maximum daily load (TMDL) projects, one for dioxins and one for PCBs, have been initiated to determine the measures necessary to restore water quality in water bodies affected by the consumption advisories in the Houston Ship Channel and Upper Galveston Bay. The goal of a TMDL is to determine the amount (or load) of a pollutant that a body of water can receive and still support its designated uses. This allowable load is then allocated among all the potential sources of pollution within the watershed, and measures to reduce pollutant loads are developed as necessary. The TMDL projects for PCBs and Dioxins are still collecting and analyzing data. One source for Dioxins has been identified: the San Jacinto River Waste Pits Superfund Site. The Superfund Project is being managed by the US Environmental Protection Agency, Region 6.
The stakeholders usually meet twice each year in H-GAC's Conference Room A, Second Floor unless time-sensitive information must be discussed. Meetings are open to the public.