Carancahua Bay is a small watershed located midway between the cities of Palacios and Port Lavaca. Portions of the bay are in Calhoun and Jackson counties. The Carancahua Bay watershed drains portions of Calhoun, Jackson, Matagorda, and Wharton counties. The upper portion of the bay is currently designated by the state as impaired because of elevated levels of bacteria that exceed state water quality standards for primary contact recreation.
The Texas Water Resources Institute (TWRI) and local stakeholders are working together to develop a watershed-based strategy to reduce bacterial pollution and improve water quality in Carancahua Bay and its tributaries. Together they are developing a watershed protection plan (WPP). The WPP will
- identify potential sources of water quality impairments and concerns,
- identify feasible voluntary management measures to reduce
pollutant loads reaching water bodies,
- develop milestones and a schedule for implementation, and
- develop measurable progress indicators.
The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) is currently working with TWRI and local stakeholders to develop a total maximum daily load (TMDL) for the watershed as well. A TMDL can be described as a scientifically determined “budget” that determines how much of a particular pollutant a water body can handle and still meet water quality standards.
The TMDL is also a document that describes this budget and allocates the pollutant load. TWRI along with stakeholders are developing TMDL implementation-plan (I-Plan). The I-Plan is a document that describes how the TMDL will be achieved and is specific to the bacteria impairment identified in the TMDL.