Water Quality Status and Trends Assessment in the Coastal Bays

Principal Investigator

Water quality is a key determinant of ecosystem health. The purpose of this project, led by HRI Chair for Coastal Ecosystem Processes Dr. Michael Wetz, is to provide resource managers with an updated assessment of water quality status and trends in Texas’ Coastal Bend bays.

A previous assessment, completed with data collected through 2010, provided valuable insight into "hot spots" of water quality change as well as overall condition of Coastal Bend bays. Given ongoing pressures on water quality in the region (i.e., land use change and population increase, climate change), there is a need to quantify current water quality trends and identify areas that may need management intervention.

Project Objectives:

  1. Assemble a database containing current water quality data for each Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) Surface Water Quality Monitoring (SWQM) Program sampling site located in the Coastal Bend.
  2. Quantify spatial patterns and trends over time in water quality variables that are relevant from management perspective.


Using water quality data compiled by the SWQM Program through 2019, Dr. Wetz and his team will apply appropriate statistical analyses to water quality variables of ecological significance, as well as those for which TCEQ has established standards/screening levels and are used to assess Aquatic Life, Recreation/Recreational Beaches, General Use and Oyster Water Use designations.  Maps of water quality will then be generated to highlight spatial patterns.

The project runs September 2020 through August 2021. Ultimately, project findings will be utilized in development of a Coastal Bend-specific Bay Health Report Card, similar to the first Texas Coast Ecosystem Health Report Card developed by HRI in 2019.