Texas’ beaches bucked national pollution trend in 2009, data show
GALVESTON — Texas beaches were cleaner than those in many parts of the country last year, according to an annual environmental report released Wednesday.
The Natural Resources Defense Council found that there were more than 18,000 beach closings and advisories nationwide in 2009, the sixthhighest level in the 20 years they’ve been tracked. Texas, however, had a 27 percent decrease in such incidents, with the number of closings and advisories dropping from 318 in 2008 to 231 last year.
An environmental group said the decrease was largely due to a twoyear drought rather than any new state efforts to prevent runoff.
“It’s just raining less. We had a drought,” Environment Texas Director Luke Metzger said. “The lack of rain just means the pollution isn’t running off into the Gulf.”
Metzger expects pollution levels for this year to be far worse because of the rainy summer.
The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality did not immediately comment.
The waters of the Texas Gulf are naturally more brown than in other parts of the region because Mississippi River mud and sediment flows west. Algae and other sea plants also are common, making the water appear cloudier.
Yet, of all the water samples taken at 65 of the state’s 169 beaches, only 5 percent had pollution exceeding accepted limits. The national average was between 6 percent and 7 percent. Pollution exceeded the limits in 6 percent of the samples in 2008 and in 9 percent in 2007.