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You are here: Home / Water Quality / Total Maximum Daily Load Program / Galveston Bay and Houston Ship Channel: Assessing Contamination from Dioxin

Galveston Bay and Houston Ship Channel: Assessing Contamination from Dioxin

A current project assess sources of contamination in fish from dioxin and evaluate options for reducing them so it is safer to eat fish from the area waterways.
Houston Ship Channel at San Jacinto State Park
Houston Ship Channel
at San Jacinto State Park


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Counties: Galveston, Harris
Parameter: Dioxin
Basins: Bays & Estuaries, San Jacinto River, Trinity-San Jacinto Coastal Basin
Segments: 0901, 1001, 1005, 1006, 1007, 2421, 2426, 2427, 2428, 2429, 2430, 2436, 2438

Background and Goals

The Houston Ship Channel System consists of 14 designated segments, which together comprise the "enclosed" portion of the Houston Ship Channel proper with its major tributaries and side bays. This project includes ten of the designated Houston Ship Channel System segments. The Houston Ship Channel has long been one of the three or four busiest ports in the United States.

The Texas Department of State Health Services (TDSHS) advises that consumers restrict their consumption of catfish and blue crab caught in the Houston Ship Channel because dioxin concentrations found in them pose a risk to consumers. Dioxin is a generic term for a suite of toxic and environmentally persistent compounds. Overexposure to dioxin can cause a variety of harmful health problems, including cancer, birth defects, diabetes, developmental delays, and immune system abnormalities. More information about the consumption advisory is available in Advisory 49 on the DSHS web site. Exit the TCEQ

The goal of this project is to evaluate options for reducing contaminant concentrations in fish tissue to levels that are an acceptable risk to consumers.

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Public Participation

The Houston-Galveston Area Council Exit the TCEQ is coordinating public participation in this and two related projects. Due to the lengthy and extremely technical nature of this project, the TCEQ convened a standing stakeholder group to work on this and two other closely related projects for PCBs and dioxin in the Houston–Galveston area. The group includes area residents and representatives of nongovernmental organizations, industry, and various local, state, and federal governments.

The H-GAC is also coordinating participation, as needed, with the Texas Clean Rivers Program Steering Committee and the Technical Advisory Group (TAG) for the San Jacinto River Basin and associated coastal basins.

See more about the two related projects: Galveston Bay and Houston Ship Channel PCBs Project and the Survey of Dioxin and PCBs in Galveston Bay.

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Project Documents

Data Report

The main Data Report file contains, summarizes, and discusses the data collected to support the TMDL project. The Appendixes file has data in electronic format (Excel spreadsheets or Access databases), in folders corresponding to appendixes described in the Data Report. Most of the stream data for water, sediment, and tissue are also in the TCEQ SWQMIS database; air and runoff and effluent data are not.

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Technical Support Documents

The following files document how the modeling was done and how the load allocation was derived from model output. These documents provide much more detail than the TMDL document.

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Annual Summaries of Findings and Progress

These documents compile quarterly reports from the project. Each summarizes activities during a fiscal year (September - August). Appendices are not included with these links, but may be requested from the project manager. Summaries and information from years prior to FY2005 may also be requested.

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Presentations from Public Meetings

These slide shows were used at several public meetings during 2005 through 2007. They summarize project findings and progress, in a less dense and detailed format than the progress reports. Any target values or load allocations shown in these slides were preliminary results subject to change as analyses were refined.

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1905 Map of Galveston Bay:

This 1905 map of Galveston Bay Adobe Acrobat PDF Document (9.9 MB) was originally produced by the Corps of Engineers. An old paper copy was scanned to produce digital images; that was the only known copy of this map. The file posted here was made by combining two overlapping partial images, merging to a single image, adjusting color to reduce yellowed effect of original, trimmed, and reduced to 4000 x 4000 pixel density to make a smaller but readable image. Larger format (6848 x 9584 pixels) files are available in TIF and JPG format, but require additional work to merge pieces or color correct the image. Contact the TCEQ TMDL program if the original files are desired.

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Contact Us

Please send an e-mail to tmdl@tceq.texas.gov, and put "Houston Ship Channel Dioxin project" in the subject line. Or call us at 512-239-6682.

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