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Galveston Bay System: A Survey of Dioxin and PCBs

A current project of the TMDL Program to determine the extent of impairment to the safety of fish consumption due to dioxin and PCBs
aerial photo of Galveston Bay
Galveston Bay System from the Air
Photograph courtesy of NASA


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Counties: Brazoria, Calhoun, Chambers, Galveston, Harris, Jackson, Matagorda, Refugio, San Patricio, Victoria
Parameters: Dioxin and PCBs
Basins: Bays and Estuaries, Neches-Trinity Coastal, Trinity River, Trinity–San Jacinto Coastal, San Jacinto River, San Jacinto–Brazos Coastal
Segments: 0702, 0801, 1101, 1103, 1113, 2421, 2422, 2423, 2424, 2425, 2431, 2432, 2437, 2438, 2439, 2501

Background and Goals

Both dioxin and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) are extremely persistent in the environment. In July 2008, the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) issued consumption advisory ADV-35 for all catfish species and spotted sea trout in the Galveston Bay including Chocolate Bay, East Bay, West Bay, Trinity Bay, and contiguous waters. The consumption risk was due to dioxin and PCBs in fish tissue. The Houston Ship Channel portions of the area have also been under consumption advisories since 1990 because of dioxin in catfish and blue crabs. More information about consumption advisories is available on the DSHS web siteExit the TCEQ

This survey project will collect data from the bay system, and could lead to TMDL development if appropriate. A TMDL determines the amount (or load) of a pollutant that a body of water can receive and still support its designated uses. The allowable load is then allocated among the sources of pollution in the watershed, and measures to reduce pollutant loads are developed as necessary.

Learn more about water quality standards and monitoring by reading Preserving and Improving Water Quality.

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Public Participation

The Houston-Galveston Area Council Exit the TCEQ is coordinating public participation activities for this project. Public meetings about this project will usually be concurrent with meetings of the Houston Ship Channel & Upper Galveston Bay Dioxin and PCBs Stakeholder Group.

The H-GAC is also coordinating, 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 Dioxin Project and the PCBs Project.

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Project Documents

  • 1905 Map of Galveston Bay
    This 1905 map of Galveston Bay (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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For More Information

Please e-mail us at tmdl@tceq.texas.gov, and reference the Galveston Bay System dioxin and PCBs survey in the subject line. Or call Jim Neece at 512-239-1524.

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