TWRI and a coalition of groups has been given the green light to draft a watershed protection plan for the Petronila and San Fernando Creek watershed. This watershed feeds the Baffin Bay of southeastern Texas.
Baffin Bay is considered a jewel of the Texas coast. It supports some of the highest commercial and recreational fishery landings in the state and provides critical habitat for numerous bird and wildlife species. Petronila Creek and San Fernando Creek are two of the three major tributaries to Baffin Bay; however, these creeks are considered impaired for not meeting the state’s water quality standards for contact recreation because of elevated levels of enterococcus and E. coli bacteria, as well as problems with pH and elevated nitrates, chlorophyll-a and total phosphorus.
Fish kills in the early 2000s increased local community awareness about the importance of water quality and its impact on Baffin Bay and the surrounding ecosystem. Local residents, scientists and conservation organizations came together to create the Baffin Bay Stakeholder Group to better understand water quality issues in the bay and develop coordinated solutions to address these issues. This group represents a long-term collaborative effort to develop solutions to protect water quality in Baffin Bay and it led the charge to develop a watershed protection plan (WPP) for Baffin Bay.
This project seeks to expand the good work of the Baffin Bay Stakeholder Group by making the WPP a reality. This short-term planning process will culminate in a WPP that comprises a suite of implementable actions prioritized according to technical merit and water quality benefits to the bay. Additionally, this plan will present a unified approach to seek and secure implementation funding and will coordinate outreach and education efforts in the watershed. The project partners — Texas Water Resources Institute, in partnership with Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board, Nueces River Authority, Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, Texas Sea Grant and the Coastal Bend Bays and Estuaries Program — are working together to engage local stakeholders in order to develop a WPP that will encompass the majority of the Baffin Bay watershed.
Dr. Lucas Gregory currently serves as a senior research scientist and quality assurance officer for TWRI.
Clare Entwistle Escamilla, TWRI research associate, provides leadership for various research and extension projects, working with university faculty, state, local and federal governments and stakeholders, to address statewide water related issues.