The Galveston Bay Foundation is often asked about the issues facing our bay. While this list is not exhaustive nor ranked in any particular order, we broadly identify the top five issues facing Galveston Bay as follows:
- Loss or degradation of coastal habitats (wetlands, seagrass meadows, oyster reefs, etc. and due to issues such as subsidence and erosion, development, invasive species, changing salinities, etc.)
- Need for more lands under conservation
- Insufficient freshwater inflows
- Poor water and sediment quality (bacteria, legacy pollutants such as dioxins and PCBs)
- Lack of awareness of the importance of Galveston Bay
Galveston Bay Foundation Position Statements
Just over the last several decades, there have been gains and losses in areas such as water quality; the extent of important habitats such as coastal prairie, coastal marsh, seagrass meadows, and oyster reefs; and levels of freshwater inflows. Overall, water quality is much better than in the 1970s when the Clean Water Act became law and placed strict regulations on industrial and municipal discharges. But today, we still battle issues such as poor water quality in creeks and bayous, illegal discharges of boater wastes, and seafood consumption advisories resulting from legacy pollutants that remain in the system to remind us of our past transgressions against the Bay.
The trends of extreme losses of important coastal habitats, too, have seen change. Historically, these habitats suffered and declined due to development, land subsidence resulting from groundwater and oil extraction, shoreline erosion, and poor water quality. Emergent wetlands, for instance, were estimated to have declined by 35,100 acres between 1953 and 1989. Land subsidence in the Galveston Bay area has been reduced to near background levels due to a switch from the reliance on groundwater to surface water and the work of the Harris-Galveston Coastal Subsidence District. This has afforded groups like the Galveston Bay Foundation the opportunity to restore wetland habitats that previously sunk and drowned and protect the vulnerable shorelines from erosion.
But the job is not done. The Galveston Bay Foundation and other like-minded organizations, agencies, and individuals continue to diligently work every day to protect the resource that is Galveston Bay.